Poorer kids benefit from being bilingual

Being able to speak two languages would prove beneficial for children from lower income families, new research has suggested. Published in the journal of Psychological Science and being presented at the joint annual conference of the British Psychological Society's Cognitive and Developmental Psychology Sections today (4 September ), the study found bilingual children from these backgrounds are able to direct and focus their attention better than monolingual young people.

Investigators from the University of Luxembourg, the University of Minho in Portugal and York University in Canada looked at 80 second-graders from low-income families. It was shown that while being bilingual did not help participants when taking memory tests, these children performed better on a control task that required them to focus their attention when distracted.

Psychological Scientist Dr Pascale Engel de Abreu said: "Although low-income bilingual children face many linguistic challenges, they also demonstrate important strengths in cognitive skills not related to language and that are crucial for learning."

He added learning a new language widens a person's cultural horizons and assists the development of the part of the brain that is important for problem-solving.  

The 2013 Joint Annual Conference Cognitive and Developmental Sections conference is taking place at the Univesrity of Reading and will run from the 4 – 6 September. The full programme can be accessed here. You can also follow the conference on Twitter.



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