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Nils Jaekel speaks with WVLT about the brain-building advantages of multilingualism for children

Nils Jaekel headshotNils Jaekel, clinical assistant professor of ESL/world language education, spoke with WVLT Channel 8, about whether or not “multilingual children have an advantage in building their brains”.

From WVLT: “Research does not make it clear that learning a second language will make your baby a young genius. Experts say learning another language will have many positive effects. While some research is mixed on the way language builds a young brain, many families are embracing two or even more languages in one household as children grow.”

At the University of Tennessee, Nils Jaekel, Ph.D. worked on a study of children that found a second language did not improve their ability to concentrate and solve problems. “Our study is in line with many other studies that have found there not to be advantage on these executive functions.”

Dr. Jaekel said that although his research shows that lack of a certain brain-boosting advantage, there are still many benefits to teaching children multiple languages.

“Cultural exposure is a huge benefit. There are literacy benefits that have been shown. So, speaking a second language does have an influence on your literacy skills in your first language as well.” He also noted language skills can be beneficial in the competitive job market. Jaekel said his family practices a multilingual home for his own children.

We, like WVLT, encourage you to check out your local public library for a wide range of resources in helping your children develop second-language skills.

Thank you to Anne Brock and WVLT for covering this important issue!