> VOCABULARY SIZE AND BILINGUALISM
There is research, including some done by York University’s Ellen Bialystok, which has found that children who speak multiple languages have smaller vocabularies in each language than those who speak just one.
In one paper published by Cambridge University Press, Bialystok looked at vocabulary tests completed by almost a thousand children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old, half bilingual and half mono- lingual, monolinguals scored an average 105 compared to 95 of bilinguals. In a later study, Bialystok and three other researchers looked at more than 1,700 children between ages 3 and 10 and found, again, that those who were bilingual had smaller vocabularies than kids who spoke a single language.
“There is evidence on all kinds of linguistic processing tasks — how rapidly you can retrieve words, what’s your vocabulary size, how quickly can you process sentences — in all of those ways bilinguals are slower,” Bialystok said. “It’s a reliable finding and you could say if we want to call the other things advantages you’d have to call this a disadvantage, but I don’t think it has much consequence.”
While several language and brain experts interviewed by the Star acknowledged similar findings with regards to the vocabularies of children who learn multiple languages, none advised against it.