Everyone who has learned a language in adulthood knows how hard it is, with the grammar books and the flash cards, the pronunciation problems and the awkward rhythm, never quite getting to fluency. How much better to raise a genuine bilingual.
A century ago, bilingualism was blamed for lower IQ scores among the children of non-English-speaking parents. The culprit was poverty, not bilingualism. Today, the prevailing wisdom has been flipped on its head: researchers now propose a “bilingual advantage”.
The research is contested. Some studies have proved hard to replicate and researchers have, in one study, found bilinguals actually performing worse on a single task. But in today’s distracted world, parents are inclined to latch onto anything that might keep the child focused on that calculus problem and ignoring the nearby smartphone.