The Effects of Simultaneous Bilingualism in Infant Cognition, Language, and Speech Essay

The Effects of Simultaneous Bilingualism in Infant Cognition, Language, and Speech, 491 words essay example

Essay Topic:speech,language

The Effects of Simultaneous Bilingualism in Infant Cognition, Language, and Speech
It is a widely held belief that the traditional social norm is learning a second language in your later adolescent years during grade school or high school. Conversely, there are numerous documented instances in which families who are fluent in two or more languages teach their children these diverse dialects as an infant simultaneously. In some of these cases, this custom is impacted by the culture of the multi-lingual individuals who believe in it which results in infants hearing and processing more than one language. The presence of bilingual parents introduces infants to multiple languages early on in their development. Fennell, Byers and Werker (2007) said that bilingual infant's lexical acquisition begins with developing words in both their languages. Many people wonder how this simultaneous bilingualism will affect certain aspects of an infant's development will it harm their development or enhance their development? The effects of simultaneous bilingualism during infancy leads to major cognitive, language, and speech advancements for bilingual infants and toddlers.
Infants who are raised in a bilingual household are exposed prematurely to different languages which can be very beneficial to their cognitive capabilities such as executive functioning and their metacognitive abilities. In their study, Kovacs and Mehler (2009) point out that executive functions refer, "to mechanisms involved in conflict monitoring, planning, attentional control, and the suppression (inhibition) of habitual responses" (p. 6556). An infant's ability to distinguish and identify two different languages helps intensify executive functioning before they even begin generating speech. By increasing their executive functioning abilities, infants also create a window for later being able to efficiently attain two different languages and have knowledge of the linguistic differences between both. This simultaneous bilingualism also increases an infant's metacognitive abilities (Tare & Gelman 2010). When speaking with different conversationalist, infants must be able to interpret which language is being used, thus resulting in a more precocious metacognitive knowledge. Not only does processing of information being spoken take place, but also the specific language spoken must be interpreted so that the infant or toddler can respond with the correct language. Furthermore, another question that arises in regard to simultaneous bilingualism and cognition is how it affects brain growth. Klein, Chen and Watkins (2014) found that the development of simultaneous bilingualism does not affect the actual growth of the brain. This acquisition does not affect brain development unless a second language is assimilated after the first. The thickness of the brain is increased based on the time frame after the first language is attained to when the second language is demonstrated (Klein, Chen & Watkins 2014). It is much easier for children to learn two languages at one time and retain the information versus learning a second language later on in life. Overall the development of simultaneous bilingualism has positive affects in the cognitive development of infants. Simultaneous bilingualism leads to increased use and development of cognition that will ultimately help advance their use of different languages.

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