The amazing baby brain says ‘pas de problème’ with bilingualism

(Adriel John Orena, Linda Polka/ The Conversation) — People often say that babies are like little sponges — with their ability to soak up language quickly and easily.

Yet much of the early research on language acquisition has focused on young infants learning only one language. This research was guided by an implicit assumption that learning one language is the usual and optimal way to learn to talk.

This idea was so strong that many questioned whether exposing babies to more than one language might be more than babies — as so-called “language sponges” — could absorb. Some even raised concerns that multi-language exposure might confuse babies and hinder their speech and language development.

Research in recent years paints a different picture. Language researchers now recognize that more and more babies are growing up in families with two or more languages. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, 19.4 per cent of Canadians reported speaking more than one language at home, an increase from 17.5 per cent in 2011. (…)

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