(Aug. 30, 2011)--Research conducted at the University of Washington (UW) Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences suggests that the brains of bilingual babies remain open to learning a second language longer than the brains of monolingual babies. Furthermore, the research suggests that a baby's opportunity to learn a second language may begin to fade as early as the baby's first birthday.
The UW research is the next chapter in the Bilingual Baby Project, a collaborative language acquisition study conducted from 2005 to 2009 by neuroscientists, sociologists and educators at UW, the Bank of America Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), the UTSA Mexico Center and the University of Redlands in Redlands, Calif.
UTSA researchers included Sophia Ortiz, CAPRI assistant director, Maria Rodriguez, a student research assistant, and Nicole Wicha, assistant professor of neuroscience in the Department of Biology and a member of the UTSA Neurosciences Institute.
Through home visits and neural laboratory studies, UTSA researchers found that bilingual babies demonstrated flexibility when labeling objects in one language or the other. While conducting the Bilingual Baby Project, they also found that the amount of exposure to each language, the strategies the babies' parents used to promote bilingualism in their homes and parents' desires to raise bilingual children were very important in their babies' bilingual comprehension.
The neural research conducted on monolingual and bilingual babies at UW confirms UTSA's findings and offers a more pinpointed time frame for bilingual language acquisition: one year from birth.
"Our research indicated that the early years of a child's life are an ideal time for a child to be exposed to rich language experiences," said Harriett Romo, CAPRI director. "The collaborative research conducted with the University of Washington further pinpoints key developmental stages the optimal age for language acquisition during the baby's first year."
UW researchers plan to continue the study, focusing next on how the brain aides bilingual language acquisition and school readiness.
>> Read about the study in the Aug. 17 issue of the Journal of Phonetics.
UTSA prides itself on giving students a well-rounded education. Combining a top-tier academic program with opportunities for personal growth prepares students to compete in a global economy. And that's not all. They learn to be informed and engaged citizens as well. At the heart of that academic program is an award-winning core curriculum.
For four consecutive years, UTSA has received an A-rating from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for the caliber of its core curriculum. According to ACTA, UTSA requires its students to take six of the seven courses deemed "crucial" to a well-rounded education: composition, literature, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics and science. Only a handful of other institutions in the U.S. are giving students these tools, which are needed to succeed in careers and the community.
Did you know? UTSA is one of only three Texas institutions and 23 in the United States to receive the highest rating for its core curriculum in the 2014-2015 edition of the ACTA's "What Will They Learn?" report.
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