Good for toddlers to learn more languages

Toddlers who are learning many languages have been found to perform better at certain tasks than those who are learning fewer languages, a study revealed yesterday.

More than 100 children here, aged 18 to 30 months, were studied.

Among those aged 18 to 24 months, those learning more than two languages are better able to remember the location of an object or figure out ways to find a hidden toy, than those who are learning just one or two languages.

The research was conducted by National University of Singapore (NUS) between March and December last year.

Associate Professor Leher Singh from NUS' Department of Psychology said that when a child learns more than one language, he is trying to keep track of two or three different "systems" at the same time.

"It's quite a significant problem (that) children have to resolve at an early age, even before they can tie their shoelaces or feed (themselves) independently."

And doing such mind "exercises" possibly helps young children when they try to work on other tasks not related to language, she added.

The study also found that at 30 months, kids can translate from English into Mandarin, or vice versa, within two seconds, but only from the language they are better in to the other.

NUS plans to do more language studies and is looking for participants aged two to four years.

Interested parents can con- tact Ms Calista Chan at psycjc @nus.edu.sg or on 6601-1718.


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