Student Achievement

Study: Bilingualism Can Ease Poverty’s Effects

By Sarah D. Sparks — August 28, 2012 1 min read

The immigrant-makes-good story is a staple of the American mythos, but a new European study suggests one reason foreign-born children show academic advantages in the United States: Growing up multilingual may cushion children from the cognitive stress of poverty.

As my colleague Lesli Maxwell reports over at Learning the Language, a study to be published in Psychological Science finds that immigrant students in poverty in Luxembourg had smaller vocabularies than their native-born peers, but better attention and focus during cognitive tasks.

The study has a relatively small sample size, but it adds to growing evidence that learning multiple languages enhances the brain’s flexibility and problem-solving ability.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.