The Importance of Bilingualism

There are many good reasons for raising children bilingually. Some advantages include family reasons, but children who are fluent in two languages can benefit from cognitive as well as personal advantages later in life. Veronica from speaks with Caroline Erdos, a Speech-Language Pathologist at The Montreal Children's Hospital about the do's and don'ts of learning two languages from birth.
Veronica: What are the benefits of raising a child who knows more than one language?
Caroline Erdos: There are several cognitive advantages, for example, bilingual children have been found to have better abilities at problem solving and at ignoring irrelevant information when they are problem solving. There are also advantages later in life, for example in adults with Alzheimer’s, the adults who are bilingual will tend to begin showing signs of Alzheimer’s later than the monolingual individuals.
Veronica: Do you always have to have one parent speak one language, the other parent speak another language, and their teacher stick to one language?
Caroline Erdos: One can choose the formula one wants, so it could be one parent / one language in the home, two different languages in the home, or it could be one language in the home, one language at daycare. There are various formulas. What they do is insure that there is a sufficient amount of input in each language. For example, a child with whom we only read in a language would not necessarily be exposed to vocabulary concerning academics or sports, but if we’re holding many conversations with that child in that language, then we’re covering a wide range of vocabulary.
Veronica: Will learning more than one language ever confuse your child?
Caroline Erdos: No, generally children are quite able to learn two languages, and in fact, worldwide there are more individuals who are bilingual then individuals who are monolingual.
If you would like to view the full interview with Caroline Erdos, click here.