Advantages of Bilingual Children.

Essay by la_dulce_damaUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 2003

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"Bilingualism is to intelligence as food is to human fitness....A simple statement about bilingualism and intelligence is as impossible as prescribing one simple food for human survival" (Baker 1). For 30 years experts have had ongoing discussions concerning the bilingual child and his mental abilities relating to intelligence and education. Originally, experts believed that a bilingual person could not be an intellectual, since he/she was carrying two or more languages in their head. Consensus has changed considerably over the past three decades, with the development and use of new testing. Children with bilingual ability offer an opportunity for researchers to explore the connections between language and thought (Bialystok Cognitive 643). Bilingual children have advantages in education, due to cognitive development, divergent thought, and mental flexibility.

Cognitive ability relates to mental activity, such as thinking, remembering, learning, or using language. Research demonstrates the differences in cognitive functioning between monolinguals and bilinguals.

Analysis and control are language components that develop later in monolinguals than in bilinguals (Bialystok Cognitive 636). These abilities refer to representation and selective attention in language that aid in comprehension and understanding. Adults who speak two languages in childhood are profoundly affected in their cognitive development (Bialystok Cognitive 643).This advantage can be manifest itself in several ways. The majority of field researchers conclude that this ability allows bilinguals the advantage of diversity and flexibility in cognition to a significant level over monolinguals (Latham 79). Gonzalez proposes that bilingual children naturally develop cognitive representation verbally, non-verbally, and symbolically (230). Truly bilingual students surpass monolingual students on many intelligence tests, both verbal and nonverbal (Latham 79). Language fluency is determined by listening, speaking, and reading abilities (Rosenberg 1).

However, since levels of bilingualism exist, the affect to cognitive development is correlative (Latham 79). In a study conducted by Ellen Bialystok, both...