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Learning Language

"Multilingual Children: Beyond Myths and Toward Best Practices"

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A research synthesis based on decades of evidence from the fields of medicine, psychology, education, and linguistics highlights common myths about children who grow up speaking more than one language.

Drawing upon more than 100 studies, the review concludes that multilingualism is an advantage to be nurtured and maintained, rather than a risk factor in a child's life. Published in the current issue of Social Policy Report, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Society for Research in Child Development, the report was endorsed in November by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A key finding is that the research it cites has failed to trickle down to practitioners who work with multilingual children, including educators and pediatricians.

The report identifies as one myth the perception that learning or speaking more than one language will confuse a child. Rather, it says, fluency in more than one language is associated with higher academic achievement and enhanced mental health. This is even the case when one language is not necessarily supported at home. By age 10, children in dual-immersion schools can perform on par with monolingual speakers of either language.

Vol. 33, Issue 22, Page 4

Published in Print: February 26, 2014, as Learning Language
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