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Bilingualism in Children: Pros and Cons

Children learning more than one language have plenty of advantages associated with their memory, cognitive skills, reading, communication, etc. Bilingualism helps a child to develop and reveal his or her abilities and develop them. Research results show that children who speak one language more than others have better preconditions for development than those who speak only one language (Morales, Calvo, & Bialystok, 2013). Knowledge of words in different languages likely makes their mind more flexible. The constant switching between the two languages ​​is a type of mental gymnastics for a child, which makes it possible to developmental abilities and, at the same time, make them suppler. Raising a child in an atmosphere of bilingualism can change the system of brain functioning (Costa & Sebastián-Gallés, 2014). Children-bilinguals have a more developed metalinguistic perception. According to the study by Costa and Sebastián-Gallés (2014), the density of gray matter in the brain of bilingual children is much higher, especially in those who were exposed to a second language from an early age.

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These children tend to answer questions of the examinations in a more creative and detailed manner. In particular, scientists believe that even an insignificant understanding of the additional language gives children advantages in learning and increases their cognitive abilities (Morales et al., 2013). They are more likely to recognize irregular grammatical constructions and understand language rules as they have at least two words for every action or subject. One should also stress the fact that learning more than one language is helpful in communication since such children show natural flexibility and adaptability. Bilingualism connects cultures and gives a greater understanding of the world as children act as bridges that connect family members from different cultures.

As for disadvantages, deficits in lexical access may develop in the form of the inability of a child who is brought up in a bilingual environment to express his or her thoughts clearly in any of the languages. It can also result in an underdeveloped ability to form complex concepts and abstract thinking (Pelham & Abrams, 2014). A child learns each of the languages only to the extent necessary for communication in this language. In this connection, there may be a significant difference in the level of language proficiency. In families that use the one parent – one language system, children often understand both languages yet speak only one of them.

Another disadvantage refers to the assumption that a child may confuse the languages he or she learns. A child will simply choose only those words that are easier to pronounce, focusing on uncomplicated sounds or shorter words. However, the confusion of languages ​​will gradually pass, and a child will know both languages ​​perfectly, especially in case parents teach their child two languages ​​from birth. It is considered by some scholars that children learning more than one language may have a split personality (Pelham & Abrams, 2014). Some children do feel that for each language they have a separate personality. However, this can happen because, speaking different languages, they behave according to different cultural norms and traditions. Speaking in English, they seem to adopt norms characteristic to English-speaking countries and change their roles in the society of people speaking German. In general, change of language leads to the transformation of cultural expectations.


Costa, A., & Sebastián-Gallés, N. (2014). How does the bilingual experience sculpt the brain?. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15(5), 336-345.

Morales, J., Calvo, A., & Bialystok, E. (2013). Working memory development in monolingual and bilingual children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114(2), 187-202.

Pelham, S. D., & Abrams, L. (2014). Cognitive advantages and disadvantages in early and late bilinguals. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(2), 313-325.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Bilingualism in Children: Pros and Cons'. 6 May.

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