According to a recent article published on by one of Harvard’s affiliated sites www.gse.harvard.edu/uk
bilingual children are showing a noteworthy advantage in a number of areas.
“As bilingual children toggle between two languages, they use cognitive resources beyond those required for simple language acquisition, Luk writes in a forthcoming edition of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Child Development. Recent research has shown that bilingual children outperform monolingual children on tasks that tap into executive function — skills having to do with attention control, reasoning, and flexible problem solving.”
This may be important research for a number of reasons. Studies like this are shifting how we understand and approach language in general (The same studies show improvement in aging brains too). The benefits are widespread and go beyond simply having the ability to just understand more people. The “Why” however is still not pinned down.
“Their [bilingual children’s] strength in those tasks likely results from coping with and overcoming the demand of managing two languages. In a bilingual environment, children learn to recognize meaningful speech sounds that belong to two different languages but share similar concepts.”
Rather than a rigid cultural structure it may be beneficial to see language, and the general knowledge of all language, as another tool for creating deeper understanding and development.
Original article: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/15/10/bilingualism-life-experience