Reading by 9: 3 reasons why language is your child’s secret superpower

Landon Seror, 4, left, and Jacqueline Morrison, 4, play bongo drums at music hour at ONEgeneration Child Daycare.
Van Nuys, CA - March 18: Landon Seror, 4, left, and Jacqueline Morrison, 4, play bongo drums at music hour at ONEgeneration Child Daycare & Adult Daycare on Friday, March 18, 2022 in Van Nuys, CA. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

From Quality Start Los Angeles Dual Language Learning Initiative

Fun fact: Your child was born with superpowers

It’s true. According to researchers, babies are born with a special gift: their developing brains can tell the difference between the approximately 800 sounds that make up all the languages in the world. As a result, they can learn languages quickly and more easily than grownups.

This unique ability can help unleash your child’s full potential. When a child grows up in a household where speaking more than one language is encouraged, they develop new abilities that help them succeed in life.


Here are the top three ways that multilingualism helps kids

  • Brain power: Learning more than one language gives developing brains a workout that strengthens the cognitive muscles. Children learn when to activate one language versus another and how one thing can have lots of different names — for example, madre, mŭqīn and niam tsev all mean mother. As a result, they can solve problems better, remember things more efficiently and are better at handling more than one task at the same time.
  • People power: Language is social — it’s one of the main ways we create and build relationships with everyone around us. When your child learns a second language, they instantly increase the number of people they can communicate with. That means more extensive social networks that your child can tap into for support and resources when needed.

But that’s not all. New research indicates that children who are exposed to more than one language become better communicators. They learn to be more observant in social settings, picking up social cues and patterns based on how multiple languages are used. As a result, multilingual children are better at interpreting what a speaker’s words mean compared to children who are exposed to only one language. Multilingual children also have an advantage over their peers in terms of social flexibility. As a result, they can switch easily and adapt to different people in different social environments.

  • Earning power: Every parent wants their child to thrive and succeed later in life. Mastering more than one language can help with that. Studies show that bilingual education has a direct effect on future earnings, with one year of bilingual education raising income by an estimated 1.4% on average.

If your family already speaks a second language at home, there’s a lot you can do to help your child build their language power. Make it a point to use your home language frequently. Praise and encourage your child when they make an effort to talk and read books in your home language. And make sure to ask your child’s teachers to support their efforts to speak in the home language.

To discover more ways you can help your budding superhero soar, visit

The Quality Start Los Angeles Dual Language Learner Initiative helps nurture multilingualism in L.A. County’s young children by connecting with families and educators to create an environment where multilingual children feel safe and valued. It is supported by First 5 LA, the Los Angeles County Office of Education, and the Child Care Alliance of LA.