Saturday, 31 December 2011

Do Infants Only Learn "One" Language Well? (2)

Do Infants Only Learn "One" Language Well? (2)
Do Bilingual Children Develop Their “Intelligence” Less?

The myths arise from a combination of factors. Since language is important culturally and politically, these considerations colour numerous arguments, including brain research findings, to favour one “Official” language to the detriment of others.

Certain medical observations have played their part: cases of bi- or multilingual patients completely forgetting one language and not at all another after a head trauma helped foster the idea that languages occupied separate areas in the brain.

Studies conducted at the beginning of the 20th century, which found that bilingual individuals had inferior “intelligence”, were carried out with faulty methodologies, being based mainly on migrant children who were often undernourished and in difficult cultural and social conditions.

The protocols should have taken into account that many of these children had started learning the language of their host country around the age of 5, 6, or later, and, without a strong command of that language, they had problems learning other subjects. In short, we cannot meaningfully compare the intelligence of monolingual children from native, often well-off families with that of multilingual children from primarily underprivileged environments with limited family knowledge of the dominant language.

"Understanding the Brain", The Birth of a Learning Science, 2007, page 118

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