30 April 2018
Bilingualism: The Good & the Bad
The power of language on Earth and in our lives is incredible; truly incomparable. It serves a beautiful purpose in communicating the thoughts, ideas, feelings, and opinions of its users, while also becoming a tool for creating relationships, friendships, and cultural ties. Language is capable of shaping our perception of reality and acting as the light to our ever so dynamic minds. Linguist Edward Sapir believes language is a means for carrying out expressions of thoughts, sentiments, perceptions, and value characteristics of community, while also being a representation of a fundamental expression of social identity. Language is a gift that will forever be giving. Many have even acquired the depths of bilingual speaking; meaning they can fluently speak two languages. Children across the globe are falling into this category of multi-language ability and it continues to receive questioning. Even more so being that these languages are introduced during the most critical moments of brain development. The question of bilingualism becomes this; is bilingualism good or bad for the cognitive development of children?
For a handful of researchers, scientists, and linguists, it is true that bilingualism raises more problems for the cognitive development of children. Many theories seek to examine the effect of mental retardation caused my bilingualism. At the turn of the twentieth century, studies on bilingualism were being done and based on the, “circumstances and the unbalanced methodological proceedings” (Hamers & Blanc, 1989:33) they concluded that bilingualism
caused defects in intelligence and was “damaging influence on children’s mental development as well as a cause of mental retardation and social ineptitude” (Hamers & Blanc, 1989:33). A study was taken during the immigration boom to North America and the effects in the bilingual children. Stephen Jay Gould reported on the testing done and found that the scores of the bilingualists were so low that they were soon labeled as, “mentally unfit and inferior”. Researches continued to push, based on the Stanford-Binet test, and declare bilingualism in children as a danger to intelligence and a, “state of mental confusion, as bilingual children had lower IQ values than their monolingual peers” (Nagy, 2013).
A delay in bilingual children’s lexical development has also caught some light and sparked question about the negative effects of bilingualism in children. Some researchers believe that, “because of the simultaneous acquisition of two or more languages, bilingual children start speaking later than monolingual children” (Nagy, 2013). In the late 20th century, linguistic researchers believed and created theories to show that there was a significant lexical delay in bilingual speaking children, especially their in their language development. They then presumed that this delay in children could cause issues and...