Language is Good for Brains

So, you don’t speak Hindi, Chinese, or Russian. You don’t even speak Spanish. Why should you come to International Family Day? You’re not going to understand anything anyway.

As tiny babies, our kids have brains that don’t distinguish between one language and another. All they know are human sounds, and they will imitate the sounds of any adult who coos at them. And exposure to any language develops the skills to acquire any language, not just the one they’re learning. Teaching your baby sign language will not inhibit, and may in fact help, her acquiring spoken English. And likewise, exposing your pre-lingual baby to Chinese or Hindi will only help their little brains understand what is this crazy mystery of human language.

What if your child is past that, and into the phase where you wish sometimes they would stop talking? He may be fluent in English, but your child’s brain is a language sponge. A second or third language is simply a matter of exposure. There is plenty of evidence that bilingualism is good for brains–especially young brains. Knowing more than one language can boost SAT scores, creativity, and the potential to learn even more languages later. And the fact is that most children–most people– in the world outside the U.S. do speak more than one language. It’s a matter of time before our children are at a disadvantage in the world marketplace because they only speak English.

But all of that aside, a kid will never learn a language if she never hears it, never even knows it exists. Sometimes it can be the smallest of moments that sparks a child’s passion and changes the course of his life forever. Plus, International Family Day will be a romping good time. Russian candy, food donated by local restaurants, dance, take-home crafts, a pasta-making machine…. And the opportunity to hear stories and share your neighbors’ languages.

About Ruth

I'm a teacher and a traveler.
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3 Responses to Language is Good for Brains

  1. Kate says:

    Thanks so much for this post. Exposure to multiple languages is so important and so much fun! My husband and I have been teaching our 2 year old daughter sign language since she was 6 months old, and because it allowed her to communicate more with us, it gave us amazing insight into how her brain was working. I wrote a little about it on my blog if you’re interested:

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