Chinese researchers from different universities and research centers recently conducted a comparative study to measure the effectiveness of picture–book reading with additive audio (PRA) on non-balanced bilingual children and found that PRA is potentially empowering the important brain functions, including thinking patterns and language processing. The findings of the study have been published in the Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences.
Many teachers and schools are providing PRA in the classroom to support and facilitate comprehension for children and to assist them with a second language (L2). But, till now, effectiveness of PRA on kids’ brain activities was not clear.
In comparison to adults, kids are sharper in achieving the command on the L2. To be a bilingual kid, meaning speaking two languages at the same time is extremely common. According to an estimation, about half of the population around the globe is bilingual. But, due to the less research on this topic, it is still unknown the exact prevalence of bilingualism, says a paper published at US National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).
However, the current comparative study has emphasized how a bilingual word comprehension test and a naturalistic PRA task to measure its role in the children’s brain? PRA referred to as a form of reading activity either individually or in a group where students read along in their books and at the same time they hear a fluent reader read the book on an audio recording. It can involve audiotapes, audiobook, or iPod.
However, to find PRA effectiveness, the researchers collected a sample that involved preschooler Chinese kids. The research included two languages including Chinese as a native language and English as a foreign language. Then the team applied the PRA task accompanied by a bilingual word comprehension experiment on the preschoolers. The team divided the children into two groups. The first group received a combination of English words and bilingual switching. The needed a more cognitive control demand. Whereas, the second group received Chinese words with a PRA task.
The team used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to explore brain functioning. fNIRS is also known as optical topography (OT), which referred to as a non-invasive functional optical brain imaging technique that works by quantifying the changes of the concentration of the level of hemoglobin in the brain based on optical intensity measurements.
Comparison of Both Group by Examining Word Comprehension
The team found the activation in a specific area of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in those Chinese kids that received English words accompanied by bilingual switching in comparison to those kids who received Chinese word comprehension. PFC is located at the front of the frontal lobe which collects data from multiple areas of the brain to process further information mainly focusing on a person’s cognition, attention, planning, personality, and proper social behavior.
The Role of PFC in PRA Task Experiment
The team also found greater activation of PFC in those kids who experienced picture-book reading with additive English audio (English PRA) in comparison to those kids who received a picture-book reading with additive Chinese audio (Chinese PRA).
A research has found that those kids who raised in bilingual households would have more self control in the future. Also, those kids that use more than one language have found to be better at blocking out irrelevant information.
By taking all into account, the current study suggests that bilingualism enhances brain activities more while comprehending the foreign language which was English as compared to native language- Chinese. Bilingualism can help in attaining the difficult cognitive tasks and language development as it keeps the brain alert even when a person used only one language at a time.