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A recent study led by Janet Werker, a psychologist at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia, suggests that children who learn two languages at once may have increased cognitive abilities such as enhanced visual and auditory sensitivity. While Werker does not believe that a person must grow up in a bilingual environment to gain such advantages, the study suggests that it can’t hurt.

Werker studied both bilingual and monolingual infants over their first eight months of development, comparing their perceptual abilities. One of the unique findings was that bilingual children seemed to be able to “change the rules” involved with language learning — essentially using the sensory skills needed for both languages in a variety of mental situations.

The findings run counter to the theory that suggests bilingualism may actually lead to language confusion. Benjamin Lee Whorf, the American linguist, once said, “Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we think about.” Whorf’s linguistic studies led to the principles of the Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativity – a belief that speakers of different languages learn, think, and act differently depending on the language they speak and write. From Whorf’s findings, one may conclude that a child who engages in code-switching – the use of two or more languages in everday interactions – will develop language confusion. Scholars postulate that language confusion thus equals confusion  with simple cognitive processing. Werker points out that there is no strong evidence of this – in fact bilingualism is common throughout the world and only in North America does it seem to be an issue.

Werker’s findings lend credence to the theory that babies are just as able to learn two languages from birth as they are one. In addition, babies who grow up in a bilingual environment are learning to pay attention to perceptual cues pertaining to two distinguishing languages, potentially increasing how much time they spend processing the world around them.

Have you had any experience that supports or contests this study? Has speaking more than one language boosted your ability to navigate through the world, or has it ever caused you trouble? Share your thoughts, below.

SUCCESSFUL INVESTING: BP stock receives ‘hold’ rating

The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV) February 6, 2007 | Andrew Leckey Q. I am a shareholder in BP PLC who is concerned about the company’s prospects, especially with its leadership issues. – K.L., via the Internet A. The giant oil company, formed by the merger of British Petroleum Co. and Amoco Corp. in 1998, has set the bar high with production growth targets that exceed those of its competitors.

It has an impressive portfolio of deep-water oil and gas projects and in liquefied natural gas, while its chemical operations are especially strong in Asia. A consistent performer, it hasn’t had an unprofitable year in the past decade, and its disclosure of financial information has been admirable.

Despite the London-based company’s positives, the entire oil industry’s dramatic earnings growth is slowing down, and BP finds itself dealing with its own particular set of issues.

BP (BP) shares are down 6 percent this year following gains of 4 percent last year, 10 percent in 2005 and 18 percent in 2004. Oil spills in Alaska and allegations of improper energy trading, which it denies, have been concerns. It also derives more of its production from Russia than any other major oil company, an added political risk. web site bp stock price

Most recently, an independent panel chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker III found that its U.S. operations had “significant” safety problems at five refineries. The 374-page report, commissioned after an explosion at BP’s Texas City, Texas, refinery killed 15 workers and injured many others, determined that effective safety leadership had not been provided. Federal regulators have similarly been critical.

BP has settled several lawsuits and set aside $400 million to resolve legal disputes from that explosion. The total cost, including repairs and lost profits, is estimated to be about $2 billion.

Amid these issues, the consensus analyst rating on BP stock is currently “hold,” according to Thomson Financial. That consists of five “strong buys,” one “buy,” 14 “holds” and one “underperform.” Regarding management, Chief Executive John Browne, who boldly built the company into a global powerhouse during a decade that included the Amoco merger, is stepping down from his position this summer, 1 1/2 years ahead of schedule. He said the safety problems were his responsibility.

Tony Hayward, head of BP’s exploration and production unit, will replace him. He is moving quickly to improve safety, including allowing an outside body to monitor safety for five years.

BP earnings are expected to decline nearly 2 percent in 2007. The three-year annualized growth rate forecast is for a 14 percent gain.

Q. Should I keep my shares of Artisan International Fund? – C.J., via the Internet A. It’s definitely not a run-of-the-mill foreign fund.

Highly respected portfolio manager Mark Yockey has run it since its inception 11 years ago. Because he detects potential growth in many more places than most of his competitors, the holdings are diversified across many sectors and regions.

While value funds have generally outpaced growth funds such as Yockey’s in recent years, the patient manager’s results have been solid. That success has attracted considerable money to not only this fund, but to institutional and separate accounts that he also runs.

The $11 billion Artisan International Fund (ARTIX) is up 18 percent over the past 12 months and has a three-year annualized return of 18 percent. Both results rank at or near the top one- fourth of foreign large-growth funds.

“Artisan International gets our highest recommendation as a good core choice to build your foreign portfolio around,” said Dan Lefkovitz, analyst with Morningstar Inc. in Chicago. “However, because of its large asset size, you probably shouldn’t expect relative returns to look as good as in the past, because it can’t be as flexible as it once was.” In seeking companies he expects to provide superior earnings growth, San Francisco-based Yockey includes smaller developed markets and some emerging-market firms and is willing to build up significant stakes in individual sectors. Those moves add some risk. Assisted by 10 analysts who pay close attention to stock price, Yockey often adds nontraditional growth stocks, such as banks and insurance companies, to his holdings.

More than one-third of Artisan International’s assets are in financial services. Telecommunications and consumer goods are other concentrations. Its top holdings were recently UBS AG and Nestle of Switzerland; RWE and Allianz of Germany; Credit Saison, Mizuho Financial Group and ORIX of Japan; Kookmin Bank of South Korea; Fortum Oyj of Finland; and China Mobile of Hong Kong. go to web site bp stock price

This “no-load” (no sales charge) fund requires a $1,000 minimum initial investment. While its annual expense ratio of 1.2 percent is less than most no-load foreign large-cap funds, Lefkovitz believes it should be lower because of its significant asset growth.

Q. My grandfather inherited stock when his parents died and now wants to gift the shares to me. How does he calculate his cost basis and how do I calculate mine? – D.H., via the Internet A. Cost basis is the original value of a stock for tax purposes.

When you inherit stock, your cost basis is the fair-market value on the date of the donor’s death. So whatever the stock was worth when your grandfather inherited it is his cost basis. When you receive it as a gift, your cost basis would be the same as your grandfather’s cost basis.

“It might make more sense in terms of tax benefit to have your grandfather hold onto the stock and include it in an inheritance, instead of giving it as a gift now,” said David Bendix, a certified public accountant and certified financial planner with Bendix Financial Group in Garden City, N.Y.

That’s because your grandfather’s cost basis could be significantly lower than the fair-market value of the stock at the date of his death. In an inheritance, you’d received a “stepped-up” basis for tax purposes in which your basis is the fair-market value of the stock on the date of the donor’s death.

Andrew Leckey

Troy woman sues Bank of America: Potential class action claims bank never modified loan despite assurances go to website bac home loans

Missouri Lawyers Media January 3, 2011 | Anna Vitale A Troy woman has sued Bank of America in federal court in St. Louis claiming the bank “has systematically failed to comply” with a federal home loan modification program.

Following the implementation of TARP in 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department began the Home Affordable Modification Program. Under HAMP, qualifying home loans can be modified depending on, among other things, the borrower’s income level and hardship information. Because Bank of America accepted TARP money, it was required to identify and modify qualifying loans under HAMP, claims the suit.

The suit, filed as a potential class action on Dec. 22, claims Bank of America hasn’t done that.

“Bank of America’s general practice and culture is to string homeowners along with no intention of providing actual and permanent modifications,” states the petition. “Instead, Bank of America has put processes in place that are designed to foster delay, mislead homeowners and avoid modifying mortgage loans.” The named plaintiff, Susan Fraser, claims she has been given the run around by Bank of America since December 2008. Fraser claims she experienced a number of hardships over the last few years, beginning in 2007 when her income from her job at Enterprise Holdings dropped because of a slowdown in business. She also got divorced, and one of her five children was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Fraser claims she was told multiple times by Bank of America representatives that she qualified for loan modification under HAMP and that the modification had gone through. But, as of the date of the suit, she had not received confirmation that the modifications contract had been accepted and implemented, she claims. website bac home loans

Fraser’s attorney, Michael J. Flannery, of Carey, Danis & Lowe in St. Louis, did not respond to a reporter’s requests for comment by press time.

Fraser’s is not an isolated case, the lawsuit says. Bank of America had more than one million HAMP-eligible loans at the beginning of 2010 but to date has only begun modification proceedings on about 237,000 of them, the suit claims. Of those, only 12,761 have been permanently modified.

The suit offers an explanation for the low numbers: Bank of America reaps financial gains by not modifying loans. For example, because Bank of America services but doesn’t own many of the eligible loans, it collects a “fixed percentage of the unpaid principal balance of the loans in the pool,” claims the suit. Reducing the unpaid principal therefore diminishes what Bank of America collects.

A spokeswoman for Bank of America did not respond to a reporter’s request for comment by press time, but a press release dated Dec. 21 on Bank of America’s website states the bank completed more than 250,000 mortgage modifications in 2010, either under HAMP or nongovernmental programs.

Suits with similar allegations to the potential class action have been filed by the attorneys general of Arizona and Nevada. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has not filed a lawsuit, said spokeswoman Nanci Gonder.

The case is Susan Fraser v. Bank of America, N.A. and BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, 4:10-cv-02400-AGF.

Anna Vitale

219 Comments

  1. Pedro -  February 25, 2014 - 10:29 pm

    I grew up fully bilingual, and I can speak, read and write in both languages more proficiently than most people who only speak one. I’m no brighter than the next person, so how did this happen? At home, ONLY German (my parents’ native tongue) was spoken, meticulously avoiding “peppering” it with Spanish words. On the other hand, friends, school, the street, etc., all taught me (correct) Spanish. So, 1) I was lucky that I didn’t learn Spanish from my parents. 2) I really did learn German, fully. 3) There is only one DIFFICULT language to learn, and that is your second language. I got that for free! Knowing two languages makes it a lot easier to learn additional ones, so not only did I learn English, French and Portuguese, but I did it quite effortlessly, actually approaching it as a playful challenge, as if it were crosswords or Sudoku. “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” (Wittgenstein)

    Reply
  2. Victoria -  February 18, 2014 - 4:27 am

    I have actually been worrying about this a lot for my future kids. I am American but my parents are Brazilian. However, they didn’t teach me Portuguese well but in high school I decided to teach myself Portuguese and actually learned very easily (I think due to listening to it all of the time and being familiar with the flow and accent).
    Now I’ve immigrated to South Korea and am married to a Korean man. I plan to teach our kids English and Korean but I am trying to figure out how.
    I’ve asked many people who grew up speaking two languages at home and one thing I’ve learned is that you have to be very direct with your kids about which language you are speaking. Like, mom speaks English and dad speaks Korean and stick to it. Or, English at home and Korean outside (at the store, church, school, restaurant). That way the kids can start to separate the languages and not confuse them when they speak or when they think. Also, read with them so that they can visually see the words too.
    I hope that helps :)

    Reply
  3. James -  April 18, 2012 - 8:55 pm

    I don’t think knowing more than one language necessarily makes you more intelligent, but it definitely gives you more insight into the world around you than monolinguals, on average of course.

    Reply
  4. tom -  April 3, 2012 - 7:11 pm

    I grew up biliguial, and am currently in grade 10. I get straight A s without even trying, and seem to memorize everything the teacher says easily. Im learning my third language now, and got nearly 100% on it as my final grade. Too me, having 2 languages has huge benefits, and seems to boost my memory to an incredible extent.

    Reply
  5. yAm -  April 3, 2012 - 10:42 am

    my kid is just a yr and 7mos old, we are teaching her english and spanish and of course filipino. what the pedia told me is that learning 2languages at the same time would confuse the childs mind and so i thought that might be the reason why my child is not speaking that much (and to think 3 lang at the same time!). the weird thing is my kid already sings twinkle starz and she responds to whatever instructions we give her may it be in english or spanish or filipino. its like she knows what it means but cant express herself just yet.

    Reply
  6. Eric Ortega -  April 3, 2012 - 8:36 am

    Very interesting, I have always wondered if kids learned two or more languages, could there be more understandings among world cultures? Less hate and more love. I support bilingual classes and think expansion of them is a great idea. Knowing Spanish helped me better understand my French class (probably because of the origins of both languages) and when I listen to Portuguese, Italian music, I can understand some words. The more I learn, the more I appreciate our world. It’s very beautiful if you ask me! So I encourage everyone to take up a second, third or fourth language and experience the world in a whole new word! (I’m actually trying to learn more about my culture and have been taking some Nahuatl lessons on YouTube!)

    Reply
  7. glimbor -  April 2, 2012 - 11:29 pm

    interesting!

    Reply
  8. Angie -  April 2, 2012 - 8:59 pm

    i think that being bilingual really helps with brain development. i grew up speaking Filipino and English. at home, we always spoke a combination of both, picking and choosing from both languages to find the word that fit the best and its really helped my writing and reading skills both with decifering meaning from context and word choice because i’m accustomed to having a broad base to choose from when speaking.

    it also seems to help with making connections and conclusions in your brain because there and some words in each language that cannot be precisely translated because no other language has a word that means EXACTLY the same thing and that broader base is a good thing to draw on. it helps you be more preceptive to things, because when you don’t understand things, it’s extremely easy to just push it aside and not think about it.

    Reply
  9. n8 -  April 2, 2012 - 2:16 pm

    i’m bilingual and smart

    Reply
  10. moerumaia -  October 6, 2011 - 8:04 am

    as a Chinese,true for me,,i travelled in many countries…in stockholm,they speak strange french, i guess i build up my english with Chinese, but i build up french with both english and chinese, so when i speak english or french ,somehow, i would speak english in a french way or french in a british way.
    for the language confusing part, well, i “heard” voice”he wants to viking girls”,and then i got a room 619(sex one night) in helsinki,
    and a tag of 007 in muse du louvre after “hearing”: he is new james bond from st petersburg.
    i could even predict or see some sign which would happen in futur,,like today ,32(room NO of mental jail and many other stuff) table of 26 floor.(they “say”26 is to strasbourg). by the way i believe in God for i have to…

    Reply
  11. wannabe linguist -  August 20, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    My grandma lived in Norway 2 years after she was born there, but now in the U.S., she doesn’t really speak it anymore, but still understands some.

    It really depends on when you learn languages for how easy or hard it is, and how many you learn, and how you learn them. I take Norwegian in the summers at a camp, but I take French during the school year. I always confuse the two when I’m transitioning. I understood the Norwegian table prayer (which I learned when I was very young) when I got back from camp right away, but a couple weeks later, I wasn’t in that mindset, so I didn’t understand it the same way. I love languages, and I really wish I was multilingual from birth!!

    But I wonder, what exactly can be considered a language? Different things have structure like that, and you have to learn them in similar ways. Someone wrote that computer programming is a sort of language, and someone else suggested that musicians may gain the same skills as those who are bilingual. My French teacher, when my class found out he also taught math, said, “Math is just another language.” I’m really interested in linguistics and this stuff is really interesting.

    Reply
  12. wannabe linguist -  August 20, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    My grandma lived in Norway 2 years after she was born there, but now in the U.S., she doesn’t really speak it anymore, but still understands some.

    It really depends on when you learn languages for how easy or hard it is, and how many you learn, and how you learn them. I take Norwegian in the summers at a camp, but I take French during the school year. I always confuse the two when I’m transitioning. I understood the Norwegian table prayer (which I learned when I was very young) when I got back from camp right away, but a couple weeks later, I wasn’t in that mindset, so I didn’t understand it the same way. I love languages, and I really wish I was multilingual from birth!!

    But I wonder, what exactly is considered a language? Different things have structure like that, and you have to learn them in similar ways. Someone wrote that computer programming is a sort of language, and someone else suggested that musicians may gain the same skills as those who are bilingual. My French teacher, when my class found out he also taught math, said, “Math is just another language.” I’m really interested in linguistics and this stuff is really interesting.

    Reply
  13. dm -  July 29, 2011 - 1:10 pm

    What is interesting is how a child can dream in English or Spanish. The brain is a powerful computer. A child can also dream in English and Spanish together. In addition, I have notice my child does pay attention to nonverbal communication and is extremely good at it. This should serve her well in life since, nonverbal communication is thought to be more accurarate than verbal communication.

    Reply
  14. greatgooglymoogly -  July 28, 2011 - 5:44 pm

    Man! I wish i grew up learning my other language!

    I guess my preschool teacher was wrong when she told my mom to only talk to me in one language (english). :P

    Reply
  15. xiao_khat -  July 25, 2011 - 5:02 am

    I am a bilingual, Filipino is my L1, English is my L2, and now I am learning Mandarin Chinese as my foreign language. Being a bilingual plus knowing a foreign language is a big factor for me to find my job now. It’s not actually confusing to use two languages in a sentence, it is actually cool. Because there are some words in English that doesn’t really have an equivalent in Filipino and that’s where bilingualism makes sense.

    Reply
  16. Dreamwalker -  July 24, 2011 - 10:45 pm

    My neice is is being taught Spanish by my brother-in-law, and English by both, so she will grow up knowing 2 languages. She isn’t yet a year old, but so far she seems like an intelligent baby.
    It would be my personal opinion that language confusion and increased mental processing are both likely. It may take her a little longer to get the languages down pat, but her development everywhere else may be considerably better.

    Reply
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