Healthy Hollywood: The Benefits Of Raising Bilingual Kids

Angelina Jolie’s twins, Knox and Vivienne, reportedly know how to speak French. While, Gwyneth Paltrow is said to encourage her two kids, Apple and Moses, to speak Spanish when they’re out in public.

Yes, both of these celebrities can afford full-time language coaches and are able to travel the world and expose their children to different cultures. But, that doesn’t mean your kids can’t learn to speak another language. It’s a lot easier to learn when you’re young and the emotional and cognitive benefits will last a lifetime.

“Research shows that bilinguals, especially those who have acquired their second language before the age of six, demonstrate superior writing and reading skills, as well as advanced analytical and social skills. Bilingualism has been shown to improve vocabulary in a child’s native tongue,” reveals Julie Pimsleur, who founded Little Pim, the leading program to introduce young kids to a second language at home.

Julie tells Healthy Hollywood that between birth and six years of age, the brain is hard-wired to learn multiple languages.

“Parents can help their children in two ways: by simply exposing them to a new language and by making it fun. Some parents who grew up speaking another language may simple want to pick particular times or places to use that language (such as always at bath time or snack time). Parents who don’t speak another language can watch the videos with their kids, play music CDs or play with flash cards with their kids. Frequent daily exposure to words and active social engagement helps the brain pathways that foster language learning to develop more fully,” adds Julie.

Speaking a second language provides both financial and practical benefits in the workplace. Plus, your memory improves, you build multi-tasking skills and some research indicates you can even stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia. So, there are a lot of advantages to being bilingual.

Don’t worry about full bilingual proficiency; a much more attainable goal is a conversational vocabulary, which only consists of 500 words.

“The foundation for success is consistency. Teaching your child a new language is a multi-year journey, but remember that success begins with a single word,” notes Julie.

-- Terri MacLeod

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