Bilinguals have better social skills

Two recent studies have concluded that multilingual exposure improves not only a child’s cognitive skills, but also their social abilities.

The first study, conducted by Dr. Katherine Kinzler’s lab, found that multilingual children were better at communication than children who only spoke one language. In their experiment, multilingual children did not only pay attention to what the adults were saying, but also to the context and the perspective of the interlocutor. Interestingly, they also found that “being raised in an environment in which multiple languages are spoken, rather than being bilingual per se, is the driving factor”.

In the second experiment, which was a follow-up study, they examined the effects of multilingual exposure on children that could hardly speak (14- to 16-month-old babies). In this follow up, led by Professor Liberman, they concluded that children raised in multilingual environments were more aware of the importance of the adult’s perspective for communication, even when that exposure to the second language was minimal.

With these results in hand, these researchers have argued that “Multilingual exposure, it seems, facilitates the basic skills of interpersonal understanding”.

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