The Bilingual Brain
Jillian Janus and Yael Zahtz
38% of total student population are
English language learners
Numbers are going up every year
“sink or swim” or ESL classes
ELL students are categorized as “at risk”
Lower expectations and quality of
Background Information Cont.
U.S. Department of Labor, 1993:
3-5 years to acquire English needed for
4-7 years to attain grade norms in
PET scans were used to measure brain activity in
People who grew up bilingual had brain activity in the
same area of the Broca’s area.
People who learned a second language later in life
activity was found in two separate parts of the Broca’s
Wernicke’s Area stores the ability to understand and
process information for both early and late bilinguals.
Bilingual children are
found to have better
abilities to block out
It is believed that this
is due to the bilingual
child’s early use of
which is located in
the prefrontal cortex
The brain of the bilingual is thought to to
work harder to differentiate between the
two languages stored in their brain.
therefore they are better “trained” to
Language acquisition takes School psychologists need to
time and hard work on the take into account the time it
part of the student takes to acquire academic
Research shows that English before testing ELL
teachers who use differences students.
in language and culture in Research has shown that
their classrooms as a way to school psychologists or
teach both ELL students and school counselors who form
native English speakers have support groups for ELL
ELL students that are more students to discuss the
academically and socially different aspects of being an
successful. ELL student have been
Patience, understanding, and shown to have more success.
encouragement is needed for