Scientific evidence clearly points to a universal, underlying capacity to learn two languages as easily as one. Children who are dual language learners have an impressive capacity to manage their two languages when communicating with others. They can differentiate when to use each language based on the language known or preferred by the people to whom they are speaking, for example. Recent research evidence also points to cognitive advantages, such as the ability to plan, regulate their behavior, and think flexibly for children and adults who are competent in two languages.
The competence with which children learn their primary language and English varies considerably among individuals. This variation may be explained by multiple factors - parents’ immigrant generational status and years in the United States, socioeconomic status, neighborhood resources, and exposure to the risks of poverty. At any rate, research indicates that children’s language development benefits when adults talk to them in the language in which the adults are most competent and with which they are most comfortable.
What Do Educators and Parents Need to Know about Children’s Language Development?
Children’s Language Development