Child Health
20 March 2016

Bilingual Children Better At Problem Solving


If your child is speaking two languages, then kudos, as a recent Canadian study suggests bilingual children to be better at problem solving than their monolingual counterparts. The study considered 39 bilingual and 43 monolingual children at the age of 24 months and again at 31 months.The researchers found no difference between the bilingual and monolingual toddlers, during the cognitive flexibility and memory skills tests. But, as the study furthered, the conflict inhibition test revealed significant differences between the two. Diane Poulin-Dubois, one of the study’s authors, has claimed that the bilingual toddlers had their vocabulary increased.


What Is Conflict Inhibition?

Conflict inhibition is the mental process used by the brain to override a well-learned rule that you would normally pay attention to. Children will have to ignore certain information like the size of a block relative to a bucket, or the fact that one fruit is inside another. To assess the toddler’s conflict inhibition, the team gave the children two tests – Reverse Categorization and Shape Conflict.1. Reverse CategorizationIn this test, children were first asked to put small blocks into a small bucket and large blocks into a large bucket. Then, the task was reversed and the children were asked to put small blocks into big bucket and big blocks into the small bucket.2. Shape ConflictPictures of different sized fruits were shown to the children and were asked to name them. Children were later shown another set of fruit images which had smaller fruits embedded inside the larger ones. They were asked to point at the little fruits.


How Are Bilingual Children Better?

Researchers clearly found out that, the bilingual children performed much better than the monolingual ones, which may be a result of bilingual children being able to switch between languages. Bilingual children develop the ability to use two words for most concepts in his/her vocabulary and the switching between languages becomes more frequent as they grow older.By the age of 3, young bilingual children gradually acquire more experience in switching between languages. Thus, bilingual children perform better in problem solving and conflict inhibition tasks.



Dr. Nahush Ghate
(Child Specialist)


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