210 Bilingual Benefits

Based on research by Bialystok, E., & Martin, M. M. (2004) written by Mara Rowcliffe, MS.

Does speaking multiple languages provide benefits beyond just being able to communicate with more people?

York University, psychologists conducted a study with preschoolers to understand the differences between bilingual children and those speaking only one language.  Each group completed a card task, sorting blue circles and red squares into two different bins, one marked with a blue square and the other a red circle.  For the first scenario, the kids sorted the shapes by color placing blue circles or squares in the bin marked with the blue square.  Both the bilingual and monolingual children were easily able to complete this task.

In the next task, children sorted the objects by shape.  This was more challenging for both groups because they needed to place the shapes in a bin marked with the correct shape but ignore the wrong color.  For example, they needed to place blue circles in the bin marked with a red circle. Bilingual children were better at overcoming or inhibiting their first tendency to respond to color and instead use shape to sort the pieces.

Teaching your child two languages from birth has multiple cognitive and control benefits for growing brains!


Bialystok, E., & Martin, M. M. (2004). Attention and inhibition in bilingual children: Evidence from the dimensional change card sort task. Developmental science, 7(3), 325-339.

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