It’s proven that the best time to learn a new language is under the age of 6. New studies from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences indicate “the notion that not only are very young children capable of learning multiple languages, but that early childhood is the optimum time for them to begin.”
In the video below, research scientist and the study’s lead author, Naja Ferjan Ramirez summarizes the results from the brain studies performed on sixteen 11-month-old babies, half raised in bilingual homes and the other half in monolingual homes:
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Our results suggest that before they even start talking, babies raised in bilingual households are getting practice at tasks related to executive function. This suggests that bilingualism shapes not only language development, but also cognitive development more generally, said Ramirez.
It’s amazing to see the results from the brain-recording technique used in the study called magnetoencephalography. “The brains of bilingual babies were specialized to process the sounds of both languages, Spanish and English. The brains of babies from monolingual families were specialized to process the sounds of English and were not sensitive to Spanish,” says Ramirez. No surprise there!
What’s more interesting is that as early as 11 months old, we’re able to see that the bilingual brains showed increased activity in areas related to executive functioning. According to The Center on The Developing Child at Harvard University, when children have the opportunity to develop cognitive skills early on, individuals and society experience lifelong benefits.
Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully….Providing the support that children need to build these skills at home, in early care and education programs, and in other settings they experience regularly is one of society’s most important responsibilities.
Are you ready to teach your little ones a new language? Check out the research behind our method to learn more about how we integrate scientific studies like these to help kids effectively learn languages, both native and foreign.
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