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Educators Once Opposed Raising Bilingual Children. Experts Now Say It's Beneficial.

from the Washington Post (Registration Required)

When I was a baby, my mother gazed down at me in her hospital bed and did something that would permanently change the way my brain developed. Something that would make me better at learning, multi-tasking and solving problems. Eventually, it might even protect my brain against the ravages of old age. Her trick? She started speaking to me in French.

At the time, my mother had no idea that her actions would give me a cognitive boost. She is French and my father English, and they simply felt it made sense to raise me and my brothers as bilingual. Yet a mass of research has emerged to suggest that speaking two languages while growing up may profoundly affect the way I think.

Cognitive enhancement is just the start. According to some studies, my memories, my values, even my personality may change depending on which language I happen to be speaking. It is almost as though the bilingual brain houses two separate minds. All of which highlights the fundamental role of language in human thought. "Bilingualism is quite an extraordinary microscope into the human brain," says cognitive neuroscientist Laura Ann Petitto of Gallaudet University.


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