Photo: White House/Flickr
Children growing up in low-income households often fall behind their peers in just about every category––from school testing, college exams and even their mortgage rates later in life. What if learning a second language could change that?
It sounds far-fetched, but a team of University of Luxembourg researchers say they’ve found strengths in low-income bilingual children that may help them surpass the challenges of poverty––namely how they quickly and efficiently they learn to process information early in life.
80 second graders were asked to perform two memory-based challenges while researchers distracted them in various ways. Bilingual children outperformed others in their cognitive ability to complete the tasks successfully, they found.
It’s the kind of control that could push them ahead of their peers in school and, the researchers hypothesize, later in life.
“This is the first study to show that, although they may face linguistic challenges, minority bilingual children from low-income families demonstrate important strengths in other cognitive domains,” says Engel de Abreu. “Teaching a foreign language does not involve costly equipment, it widens children’s linguistic and cultural horizons, and it fosters the healthy development of executive control.”
Earlier this year, another team of researchers found that bilingual consumers are more likely to make sound financial choices when reading material in their native tongue.