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Education Science

Bilingual Kids Show More Creativity 221

Posted by Soulskill
from the blame-your-parents-for-making-you-dumb dept.
An anonymous reader tips news of a study from researchers at the University of Strathclyde which found bilingual children to be significantly more successful at a set of tasks than children who spoke only one language. "The differences were linked to the mental alertness required to switch between languages, which could develop skills useful in other types of thinking." Lead researcher Fraser Lauchlan said, "Bilingualism is now largely seen as being beneficial to children but there remains a view that it can be confusing, and so potentially detrimental to them. Our study has found that it can have demonstrable benefits, not only in language but in arithmetic, problem solving and enabling children to think creatively. We also assessed the children's vocabulary, not so much for their knowledge of words as their understanding of them. Again, there was a marked difference in the level of detail and richness in description from the bilingual pupils."
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Bilingual Kids Show More Creativity

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @07:36PM (#40881361)

    Alternatively, bilingual children tend to be raised by people with greater drive and skill in problem solving, notably immigrants.

  • by the_humeister (922869) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @07:38PM (#40881383)

    Who the hell thinks this? I grew up in a bilingual household and then took Spanish in high school, so I'm semi-trilingual. Childhood is the best time to learn a new language since children can still hear the differences between phonemes that aren't present in the main society's language.

  • by metalmaster (1005171) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @07:41PM (#40881403)
    You dont even have to live in a multicultural community. Start early enough and the kid will learn the second language just as easy as they'll pick up on English
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @08:05PM (#40881553)

    yes.. a lot of them solve problems alright.. problem: no money. solution: move to USA and bilk the welfare system.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @08:07PM (#40881567)
    In a word, No. they did not study Hispanic kids in California. The first sentence of the link is:

    A study of primary school pupils who spoke English or Italian- half of whom also spoke Gaelic or Sardinian- found that the bilingual children were significantly more successful in the tasks set for them. The Gaelic-speaking children were, in turn, more successful than the Sardinian speakers.

    Without knowing anything about the demographics of Scotland and Sardinia I couldn't even guess about what other factors might correlate with bilingually there... it might be very different than how many bilingual Americans are recent immigrants, and thus at a disadvantage due to poverty in addition to whatever language barrier exists.

  • by Krishnoid (984597) * on Saturday August 04, 2012 @08:36PM (#40881781) Journal

    I'm sure diversity in doing things instead of single mindedness is nearly always valuable.

    Lera Boroditsky []'s research has come up with results that challenge some basic assumptions in linguistics. One such finding is that rather than language simply expressing thought processes, it shapes mental models of the world.

  • Re:Multiculturalism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zAPPzAPP (1207370) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @08:38PM (#40881797)

    I wasn't biligual as a child, but I am now at least.

    For me, from the moment on I was able to not only communicate, but also think in both languages, a lot changed.
    Certain concepts click together easily in one language, but if I had to use the other language to grasp them, I'd get stuck. And it's not always my first language which is superior, as you might expect.

    Each language brings with it a different way of thinking, the cultural aspect, that's coded into it.

    It's very helpful to switch between languages for different tasks. Kind of like using mutiple virtual desktops.

  • by grcumb (781340) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @09:37PM (#40882197) Homepage Journal

    Should I ever visit your country, do you have any recommendation for a good feel of the back country?

    Here's a primer on how to behave [] (and what kind of behaviour to expect) in Vanuatu. And these people have the best tour packages I've seen []. Feel free to look me up. It's a small place and we all like to welcome visitors.

  • by bidule (173941) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @10:22PM (#40882515) Homepage

    Seeing how the "same" word translate differently in another language helps to fix in your mind the differences between:
    - capitol / capital
    - principle / principal
    - affect / effect
    - its et al
    - theirs et al

    I could go on, but these silly mistakes mostly happen to speakers ignorant of their own native language. Bilingualism kills that ignorance.

  • by papafox_too (883077) * on Sunday August 05, 2012 @03:06AM (#40884139)

    Places like Africa, India, and Papua New Guinea have a lot of spoken languages, but there is _ONE_ big problem - that's all they have, spoken words, no written word, no way to jot down what they say on paper, et cetera

    Total, utter poppycock.

    How can you educate children using a second language? Educators found generations ago that teaching in a language other than the child's first language simply does not work for young children. So, to teach the child, books and other material written in their native language, which requires a written form - an orthography - has to have been developed.

    Here in Australia, two generations of linguist graduate students (from the 1950's onwards) were employed creating written forms of the various Aboriginal languages. They recorded words (dictionaries) and grammar. They wrote down the local tribes children's stories. They translated the standard primary school texts into the local language. All of this is essential to run a primary-level education system. Similar programs have run in PNG, Canada, Central America and Africa over the last fifty years.

  • Re:Multiculturalism (Score:4, Interesting)

    by blackest_k (761565) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @06:37AM (#40885029) Homepage Journal

    I'm getting old so learning new languages seems to be a lot harder than it once was. I started learning Polish 10 years ago and I am fairly competent enough to converse with Polish friends. I let rooms to Poles in my home which really helped me learn to learn a language well you must use it.

    The hard thing about learning languages is building a vocabulary getting those words into your brain and usable. My favourite aid is cuebrain I use it on android but it is available on Iphone and windows mobile. It is a flashcard system and fairly open there are a lot of language pairs available and you can add your own cuecards. It isn't limited to languages for example chemical elements was easy to create mapping symbol to name.

    Cuebrain (optionally) uses svox voices to speak the words, I bought hungarian and english so I can listen to as well as read the words. It could as easily be phrases. You can also compete against other users, trying to speed up to climb the rankings can become addictive.
    most card sets can be completed in around a minute or less once you are familiar with the set.
    so it's something you can do to kill time.
    Obviously you need to learn grammar and sentence structure and inflection too and unfortunately that can be a bit dry i use ebooks for that. Also Google translate is very useful especially when conversing over the internet. Of course google translate isn't perfect but with the drilling exercises more and more words will come to have meaning.

    Someone posted that different languages give you the ability to think differently and concepts can be easier in one language over another and that I would say is true.

    It would be interesting to find out what proportion of Slashdot users are multilingual I would have thought a majority can program to some extent and human languages are a natural extension to programming languages. I would think most of us have the aptitude and the intelligence to be quite successful at developing the capacity of our brains to think and be more creative.

    Funny how it is always the people who speak just one language who cannot see the advantage in speaking more than one :)

  • Mental Integration (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hoboroadie (1726896) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @08:30AM (#40885519)

    I'm one of the ignorant monolingual types so typical of the U.S.A. When I studied Francais at school, I noticed that I did some thinking in the language, and felt that it was speeding up my thought processes, much like a multi-threaded CPU. I thought if one could grok the subtle differences between word translations it could increase intuitive understanding of reality.
    Is Dr. Lauchlan the first one to actually look into this?

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.