Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Power of the Dual Language/Bilingual Brain By Jeffrey Kluger (TIME magazine)

Parents in Hoboken, NJ attend a Board of Education Meeting to
discuss Dual Language Education

(photo: Hoboken Reporter 11/17/13)
In July of 2013, Time magazine did a feature story on dual language education. The article is included here and provides an excellent overview of dual language education in the United States. The bilingual brain is not necessarily a smarter brain, but it is proving to be a more flexible, more resourceful one. In a polyglot world, that's a lesson that a largely monoglot country like the U.S. ignores at its peril. "Monolingualism," says Gregg Roberts, a language-immersion specialist with the Utah state office of education, "is the illiteracy of the 21st century." When it comes to language, there's no such thing as starting too early--and it turns out the brain can be bilingual even before birth. The human auditory system is functional from the third trimester on, and the loudest thing an in utero baby hears is its mother's voice, speaking whatever language or languages she knows. Those sounds, with their characteristic rhythms and phonemes, are poured straight into the baby's brain and become comfortingly familiar.