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The Advantages of Growing Up Bilingual

Are you raising your kids bilingual?

Some families don’t have a choice. As immigrants to a new land, their children speak their native tongue at home and the country’s language when out and about in the world.

But raising kids bilingual has also become increasingly trendy, something that upper class families will seek to do because studies have shown that it increases kids’ cognitive skills, including executive functioning.

Multilingual Kid

Well, now it turns out that there are even more benefits. A recent New York Times article pointed to the super social skills of bilingual children. Scientists theorize that bilingual kids are better at picking up complex social cues because they’ve had to pay attention to the context in which someone is speaking to them since a very early age: who is speaking which language when. Bilingual children were more sophisticated at understanding different perspectives.

But what if you don’t speak a language other than English and you can’t raise your kids bilingual? I thought it was great that researchers found similar advantages even for kids who grew up in a multilingual environment. In other words, children only have to hear more than one language being spoken in their everyday lives; they don’t have to be bilingual themselves.

This makes me happy because we hired a Spanish-speaking nanny, and have encouraged her to speak in her native language to the Joy Boys whenever they are together. But who knows how much she really does. It’s great to learn that even hearing her speak Spanish will have a positive impact on their development.

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