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Study Reveals: Bilingual Education Develops the Brain

Children who became literate in more than one language have more brain connections, helping to creativity and reasoning, shows a study by Claudia Ferraz who writes for “O Estado de Sao Paulo”, one of the largest Brazilian newspapers. The literacy of children in more than one language may seem confusing to some parents, but for experts it is a positive way to develop children’s brains: the brain connections increases, improves reasoning and develops creativity. 

However, bilingual education is still not common in Brazil. There are only about 60 schools that provide such kind of system, 8% of them are in São Paulo. To discuss and encourage this form of education in the country was held last week the 1st Conference of Brazilian Bilingual Schools. 

“Uruguay has the same number of schools that Brazil, but, compared with the population, we are far behind,” said Lyle Gordon French, director of educational bilingual school Play Pen in Sao Paulo. “There are more schools in Lima Peru, than here, “he adds. Argentina already has 110 schools and Chile begins to deploy some. “Bilingual people are learning all the skills in two languages. They know to read, write and speak in English and Portuguese, for example. 

But they also learn math, science and other subjects . One does not need not be perfect in both languages to be bilingual, “says one of the guests at the event, Professor of Psychology at McGill University in Canada, Fred Genesee, considered a leading expert on the subject. 

Fred examined for three decades abilities of children and young people under 16 who were literate in French and English-speaking at home. He says that they have a higher level in the mother tongue than those who speak only one language. In addition, they develop best intellectual skills and can become more creative. 

According to international studies, the patterns of brain activity to learn another language change with age. In adults, the connections used in the mother tongue help in time to learn another, since it is not very different.“In children there is this difference because the brain is” new “. They use the first words at the same time, so any language will have the same difficulty. So it is important to have contact with the language soon and as long as possible, “he says. An early type studies with the Portuguese, made with 40 people between 19 and 36 years, showed that those who learned English in childhood distinguishes sounds better than those who learned later. Author, Rodrigo Collino, the Institute of Biosciences, University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil demonstrated in findings from a survey of University College London, published in the journal Nature. “Computer spoke words that have sounds confusing to Brazilians as bed (bed) and bad (bad), and one had to distinguish what they heard.

The ones who learned English in childhood had a much better performance when recognising these sounds” explains Collino. “It is believed that the sooner we learn another language, our brain activity approaches the region’s native language.” Writing well does not become a problem.“To read, we have to know the connections that correspond to the words and understand the grammar among them. When you have a concept of how to read you can do it in any language. literacy is one, no matter what the language, “says Genesee. 

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Alan Chiu Tsang

Alan is a freelancer photographer and author for
He graduated from Hong Kong university in 2005.