In a recent NPR Morning Edition article and podcast titled “Being Bilingual May Boost Your Brainpower,” Gretchen Cuda-Kroen reported that “approximately one-fifth of Americans speak a non-English language at home, and globally, as many as two-thirds of children are brought up bilingual.”
The story profiles a Hungarian couple raising their children as bilingual. Speaking only the home language before their children learned English at school, the couple received mixed responses from others.
But the emphasis of the report is how “some psychologists say being bilingual may actually be good for children’s cognitive development”–pointing to the wave of myths and misunderstandings about the effects of learning more than one language, such as that it will hold you back.
According to the article:
The idea that children exposed to two languages from birth become confused or that they fall behind monolingual children is a common misconception, says Janet Werker, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia who studies language acquisition in bilingual babies.
“Growing up bilingual is just as natural as growing up monolingual,” said Werker, whose own research indicates babies of bilingual mothers can distinguish between languages even hours after birth.
“There is absolutely no evidence that bilingual acquisition leads to confusion, and there is no evidence that bilingual acquisition leads to delay,” she said.
To read the full article or listen to the podcast, click here.