Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bilingual children outperform native speakers by age 7

Here's a study by University of Sydney academics of 19,000 children, infants through age of 11,  that tracked the development of their biliteracy.  

The evidence on the benefits of bilingualism to the brain always keeps mounting... 

One can't help but think that some or many in the dominant group in our country, if given a choice, would opt for bilingualism solely for themselves but not for those like Latin@s and other linguistically diverse groups who are poised to be the bilingual, biliterate people needed for our increasingly interconnected country and world. 

Without well-designed, well-structured, and well-remunerated bilingual education programs, we must, with great struggle and difficulty as communities, strive toward this.  Instead of relegating this to a power struggle between the more and less privileged in our society, let's make this a win-win situation and promote bilingualism, bilingual and dual language education, as well as, the knowledge, cultures, and histories that attach to them everywhere.

Thanks to Dr. Reynaldo Baca for sharing.

Angela Valenzuela


Education Bilingual children outperform native speakers by age 7

Education Bilingual children outperform native speakers by age 7 Bilingual children outstrip their monolingual peers by the age of 7 despite lagging behind at 5 (Photo: Getty Images) Richard Vaughan 3 daysMonday April 10th 2017 

Children who speak English as a second language outperform their native speaking classmates in a range of academic tests by the age of seven, despite lagging behind when they start school, research has shown. A study looking at the educational development of children of migrants reveals that while they are behind their monolingual peers at age five, they scored higher in maths and writing tests after just two years later. Academics from the University of Sydney tracked the development of 19,000 UK infants up to the age of 11, which showed that those who spoke more than one language had higher cognitive development scores. ‘General superiority’ Anita Staneva, co-author of the report, said: “Bilingual children showed a general superiority over their peers in a range of cognitive outcomes such as the British Ability Scale Word reading, pattern construction and math tests.” According to the researchers, the results suggested that migrant parents compensated for what they perceived as a disadvantage in speaking another language at home, which led to longer term improvements. Dr Staneva added that migrant parents were also more likely to encourage their children to study hard at school. “It may well be that immigrant families, who came all the way to the UK, emphasise education and place more value on learning at home so that their children would have better future,” she said. The research also pointed to recent advances in technology, which have revealed that people who speak more than one language have a greater control over certain functions of the brain, which enables children to “learn more efficiently”. The report states: “Over the past few decades, technological advances have allowed researchers to investigate how bilingualism interacts with, and possibly changes the cognitive and neurological systems. To maintain the relative balance between two languages, the bilingual brain relies on executive functions, a regulatory system of general cognitive abilities,” the report states. “Because [a] bilingual person’s language systems are always active and competing, that person uses these control mechanisms every time she or he speaks or listens. This constant practice strengthens the control mechanisms and changes the associated brain regions.” Growing evidence The report adds to a growing body of evidence showing that children who speak English as an additional language can have a beneficial impact on schools. Just last month, former education secretary Michael Gove stated that migrant families had helped fuel higher standards in London’s schools. “There’s lots of evidence that London having become more diverse has contributed to educational standards rising in London,” Mr Gove said. “I’m not saying that’s the only cause, far from it. But I do think it is the case – and I know this from my experiences as a parent with two children in London state comprehensives – many of the children, or whose parents more to the point have come here in recent years, have extraordinarily high expectations of the state system.” 

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