No More Alzheimer's? Being Bilingual Might Be Best Prevention

Wow, what an intriguing headline! It seems that at the moment everyday there are new studies being published regarding the countless benefits of growing up #bilingual. It not only makes us better communicators or hightens our ability to multi-task it may not have also long term health benefits.

Early Learning of Another Language may prevent Alzheimers"Trilingualism and full literacy in two languages is the goal for all students in Hong Kong's public education system. English and Chinese are taught at primary school and the city has at least 28 international kindergartens that teach in English and Putonghua - that's more than 70 per cent of preschools listed in the
SCMP Good Schools Guide, reflecting strong demand for bilingual education among parents." What a great place for children to grow up in Hong Kong and to experience multilingual play in kindergartens and at home.Hongkong - a place where children traditionally grow up multilingually - does encourage and support early language acquisition for all their young pre-school and school children. If a language is acquired later in life the brain gets activated differently and the language cannot be acquired in quite the same way as a native speaker does.

The scientists are now equipped to measure more accurately activity in the brain and can prove some of their hypotheses. Cognitive neuroscientist Dr Laura-Ann Petitto shares her findings:

"We also saw spillover into other content areas: better mathematical processing, better on tasks that required complex relations," she says. "So this big language area has a spillover effect into giving the child higher cognitive advantages. These advantages are preserved across the lifespan."

Another team's research is now finding that bilingual brains are better protected from Alzheimer's disease, she adds."

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Our kids are very lucky today that we have access to so many wonderful educational and playful toys so that they can acquire new language skills in a more relaxed and fun way. Our team at "Discover English with Ben & Bella" has worked on an immersive multimedia English learning program which kids enjoy watching, interacting and playing with. Children love to use our sticker book over and over again or learn to sing along to English songs. Check out these fun games on our homepage:

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It's Never Too Late To Learn Another Language

Our brains and minds are fascinating - how wonderful to know that our brains can change throughout our lives giving us empowerment to become the person we truly want to be. Research around language acquisition, bilingualism and learning shows that learning new skills, learning another language and being mentally active has countless benefits.

In an article in Penn State News Karen Miller, director of Penn State's Language Acquisition Lab and assistant professor of Spanish linguistics explains that. "Bilingual speakers have two languages, both of which are always activated, regardless of whether the individual is aware of that activity or not," Miller explains.

"Psycholinguistic research indicates that this continuous co-activation of two languages produces competition, so that the bilingual person is functionally a mental juggler, with the words, grammar, and sounds of both languages available, at least momentarily, when a bilingual is attempting to use one language alone. The hypothesis is that bilinguals learn to resolve cross-language competition and, in the process, acquire cognitive control that enables them to resolve competition more generally when other non-language cognitive processes conflict."

And one of the most important finding is is that it's never too late:

"One of the most important and fascinating findings in the current literature is that it is never too late!" Miller says. "Even late bilinguals, past early childhood, reveal many of these positive cognitive consequences. Likewise, older claims about limits to second language learning, suggesting that adults could not fully acquire the grammar of a second language, have been criticized. New data, especially neuroscience data, show that late learners are indeed able to acquire native-like proficiency."

Ben & Bella can help your children to playfully develop and activate areas of the brain to build an awareness of speaking another language, being immersed in it and having fun learning it. Help your child to become an active bilingual speaker in a playful and charming way.

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Local Dialects Play Important Part in Kids Education

In many Asian countries the language that is spoken at home is not the language that the children will be taught at school. In Indonesia, for example, children grow up at home learning and speaking their local dialect and at school they are taught and instructed in Bahasa Indonesia.

It is assumed that children in remote regions are more likely to drop out of school if they cannot learn in their native tongue, since quite often the students do not understand the language of instruction. Indonesian education experts have now suggested that the simultaneous use of local and Indonesian languages should be promoted during the early stages of education to boost the accessibility of education, especially that of young children in remote areas.

The Jakarta Post writes that "Data from ACDP Indonesia showed that only 63 percent of children aged five to 14 attended schools in remote regions, compared to 72 percent in cities" and "The ACDP blamed the high dropout rate on the use of Indonesian language in class."

An Indonesian language expert explained that it was important for young children to be fluent in their native tongue first and then use their first language to introduce them to the Indonesian language. 

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