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Parents used to believe that introducing a second language to a young child would result in language confusion, speech delay, and/or reading or writing problems in school. But researchers have found a different - and surprising - result of what bilingualism does for children.

According to a five-year study of bilingual children at the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab (CLAL), learning a second language does not have any negative effects on a child’s cognitive abilities. To the contrary, researchers found that the children were actually more attentive in the face of distraction when compared to children who could only speak one language.

According to Barbara Lust, a developmental psychology and linguistics exp-ert, that’s an important finding because the ability to focus and pay attention is a key role in academic success. Lust, and her collabor-ator on the research project, Sujin Yang have published their findings in academic journals. —