Learning two languages in the crib: Cognitive effects of bilingualism in infancy

Bilingual children must learn roughly twice as much about language as their monolingual peers; however, they reach the language acquisition milestones around the same times as monolinguals. Yet, it is still unclear how young infants cope with the multi-language input and what are the effects of bilingualism on early cognitive development. Due to the need to selectively learn two languages, mechanisms of attention and selection might be used to a greater extent and could show an enhanced development. We will discuss a series of studies suggesting that bilingual infants are more efficient in attention switching and in learning simultaneously multiple regularities. Further, we will consider other possible changes in the cognitive system that seem to be triggered by the bilingual input, such as a boost in visual language discrimination or in memory flexibility, and different word learning strategies in bilingual and monolingual infants.