We’ve brushed up on the various definitions of bilingualism, and spoke last week about early bilingualism, so this week we’ll be taking a look at late bilingualism. So what’s the difference between early and late bilingualism? Other than the age differences, does it really matter? Bilingualism is about the learning the language itself, not the age at which the language is learned, right?
You may have guessed that late bilingualism comes well after childhood, but it’s actually considered to happen around the ages of 6 or 7 years old at its earliest.
Since there is a difference, what’s better? Learning a second language while the first one is still being solidified, or right afterward?
Previous research has actually argued that late bilingualism is better because the language learner won’t be “confused”. This, however, has been disproved as part of a Department of Psychology at Miami University study. Vrinda Kalia, part of the study team, argues that it doesn’t matter whether you learn late or early, what matters is the person.
According to Kalia, and team, evidence of the differences in bilinguals is mixed. Because of this, they, studied the differences between these groups, as well as the difference between monolinguals and bilinguals. The findings suggest that there was no clear advantage of early bilinguals from the other two groups. In fact, early bilinguals and monolinguals were even equivalent to one another in performance levels on the Executive function (EF) task.
For better or worse, it looks like this one’s up to the parents and when they want their children to start learning a new language.