Learning simultaneously two languages at very young age develops certain areas of the brain that are different when a second language is acquired later in life in high school or college for example.
The bilingual brain has one large area for processing complex information overlapping both languages while when a second language is learned after 13 years old there are two distinct areas for each language making information processing more difficult in the second language. According to recent brain imaging studies, bilingual brain develops more densely, giving it an advantage in various abilities and skills.
As a parent of a bilingual child I was afraid initially of confusion and mixing the two languages ( in my son’s case French/English). At school we have experienced 100% English curriculum and then speaking, reading, watching movies in French.
We also experienced a true bilingual French/English curriculum with one day in English, one day in French (Atlanta International school) for three years between 4K and 1st Grade.
Then back in a French-speaking country, Belgium, we also chose an international school with 100% English curriculum with extra personalized support focusing on English writing. At home we do everything in French but we don’t teach formal writing, spelling or grammar, however his reading is as good as in English. Other concepts like maths are learned simultaneously without special effort.
I also think that being transferred from New York to Tokyo then Atlanta and to Brussels between birth and age 8 developed his emotional intelligence and communication skills beyond speaking two languages. To adapt the brain needs to make new neuronal connections called “neuroplasticity”, and the younger the child get exposed the more new connections can be made. Being multiculturally literate is also a great advantage of raising children in different cultural environments, I believe more opportunities are offered both on personal and professional levels.
- Bilingual Brain Advantage (writersresortllc.wordpress.com)
- Interacting in just one language (psychologytoday.com)
- Research suggests bilingualism benefits cognition (cogsciblog.wordpress.com)
- Speaking more than one language might benefit your brain (educblog.wordpress.com)