After speaking with my aunt about her grandson learning to speak with bilingual parents, I was interested to look at the cognitive differences in learning related to this class. A lot of the articles debate whether or not having bilingual parents delay the onset of infants speaking, but there is conflicting evidence that also says that growing up bilingual affects your brain in so many positive ways. Studies show that “monolingual” babies recognize phonetic sounds earlier, in both the language they were used to hearing and a foreign language, but after 10 months have “neural commitment” and don’t recognize new languages. On the other hand, bilinguals babies did not recognize these same phonetic sounds until 10-12 months, but were then able to distinguish between the phonetic sounds in both languages, and don’t have the more narrow minded brain wiring. When shown silent videos of people speaking, brain waves show that monolingual babies recognized mouth movements earlier on and were engaged to recognize when a language that they didn’t know was being spoken, but at 8 months stopped responding and lost interest, whereas bilingual infants learned to recognize facial and mouth movements from video later on, but remained engaged for longer, trying to figure out what the unknown foreign language was. This suggests that bilingual babies have better logic solving skills, are better at multitasking, and have higher executive function. This seems like enough positive traits for me to believe it is worth the delay in onset in speaking to raise a child speaking two languages. Having your brain wired better to handle multitasking and logic problems is a huge advantage throughout life, and there is no reason for the child to need to be speaking at such a young age. The delay in onset of speaking is not a sign of lower cognitive abilities, so it doesn’t seem like something to worry about. This is just the baby taking their time to figure out both languages.
Hearing Bilingual: How Babies Sort Out Language http://mobile.nytimes.com/2011/10/11/health/views/11klass.html?referer=&_r=1