January 04 : Many studies have been conducted on the intelligence levels of children who speak two languages. Studies have suggested that knowing how to speak a second language has many advantages, and some studies have even suggested the differences in how the brain develops with bilingual and monolingual children.
A new study suggested that children who speak two languages are more creative and better storytellers. Although these kids use as many words as children who speak one language while telling a story, yet the bilingual kids show high levels of cognitive flexibility. Their stories indicated that they can easily switch between thinking about different topics.
The new research by University of Alberta scientists found that the words the bilingual kids use in their stories are correlated with their ability to switch between different concepts.
Benefits of bilingual children
Researchers of the University of Alberta, Canada, studied a group of children who speak two languages, French and English, since their birth, rather than learning a second language later in life. The researchers found that the bilingual kids used as many words to tell a story in English as monolingual children. These children also used just as many words in French as they did in English while telling a story.
Since good vocabulary and storytelling abilities lead to school achievements, parents of bilingual children can relax about the long-term school achievements of their kids, suggest Elena Nicoladis, lead author and professor in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Science, University of Alberta. Bilingual kids can also use their thinking flexibility to tell stories in more creative ways.
However, an earlier research has shown that children who speak two languages from birth score less than children who speak just one language when it comes to traditional vocabulary tests. The results of this study actually changed Nicoladis’ team’s concept of understanding multiple languages and cognition in children.
According to Nicoladis, the past study did not surprise them because the study was based on the fact that learning a word depends on how much time one can spend on a language. And since bilingual children have to give time to both the languages and their time gets split between two languages, they tend to have lower vocabularies in each of the languages they speak.
Using a new and highly sensitive measure, the new research examined cognitive flexibility of both bilingual children and monolingual children. The researchers tested the participants’ ability to switch between games with different rules, while maintaining accuracy and reaction time. The new research eventually drew the conclusion that the storytelling ability of bilingual children is stronger than monolingual children.