Connecticut Families Extra: Benefits of teaching your baby to be bilingual

Connecticut Families

Daniel Perez and Jenny Ring-Perez started speaking Spanish to Camilla and Alessandra at birth. 

“I was really committed that these girls really have Spanish as one of their languages so that they can really know themselves as being also from Costa Rica,” said Jenny Ring-Perez. 

They also had Spanish-speaking teachers and time with Daniel’s family in Costa Rica.

“What I noticed is that the phonetics is pretty impressive to see, when they started speaking Spanish, how they were able to do all the sounds,” said Perez.

That’s what Naja Ferjan Ramirez found in her study. She measured brain waves from 11-month-olds and found they’re already learning the language or languages they’ve been hearing. 

“At the time that they’re getting ready to say their first words, they’re already primed to do that,” said Naja Ferjan Ramirez, PhD, Research Scientist, University of Washington.

Bilingual babies showed strong responses to both languages and had stronger brain responses in areas that are responsible for executive function. Ferjan Ramirez says the infant brain is capable of learning two languages simultaneously.

“If we give babies an opportunity to experience a second language during infancy and early childhood, they will be able to, and should be able to develop native-like fluency,” said Ferjan Ramirez. 

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