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Science. 2009 Jul 31;325(5940):611-2. doi: 10.1126/science.1173947. Epub 2009 Jul 9.

Flexible learning of multiple speech structures in bilingual infants.

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1
Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati-SISSA, Via Beirut 4, 34014 Trieste, Italy. agneskovacs@mtapi.hu

Abstract

Children acquire their native language according to a well-defined time frame. Surprisingly, although children raised in bilingual environments have to learn roughly twice as much about language as their monolingual peers, the speed of acquisition is comparable in monolinguals and bilinguals. Here, we show that preverbal 12-month-old bilingual infants have become more flexible at learning speech structures than monolinguals. When given the opportunity to simultaneously learn two different regularities, bilingual infants learned both, whereas monolinguals learned only one of them. Hence, bilinguals may acquire two languages in the time in which monolinguals acquire one because they quickly become more flexible learners.

PMID:
19589962
DOI:
10.1126/science.1173947
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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