Does Early Childhood Language Immersion Increase Intelligence?

Bilingual Benefits Intelligence Early Childhood Language Immersion

Language immersion provides multiple benefits. Research shows that learning a second language, such as Spanish, improves academic success and adds up to 15 percent to your future salary. But did you know that kids who enroll in a Spanish immersion preschool could boost brainpower? Scientists say bilingual children are more intelligent, have more brain cells, and may even have increased brain size.

Better Intelligence

Children proficient in two languages are more likely to have better intelligence and reading skills in adulthood than children who only speak one language. Thomas Bak from the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, tested 853 children in 1947 and retested them in 2008 and 2010. The bilingual adults performed better in intelligence and reading tests than he expected.

Bilingual Benefits Intelligence Early Childhood Language Immersion

More Brain Cells

Another study revealed bilingualism increases “gray matter” — the number of cell bodies in the brain. People who speak both English and Spanish, for example, are likely to have more brain cells than people who just speak English. This, of course, suggests a healthier brain and better intelligence.

The above study also found that bilingual experience positively impacts other parts of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex (responsible for abstract reasoning, planning, and problem-solving), bilateral supramarginal gyri (partially responsible for linking words and meanings), and anterior cingulate (partially responsible for impulse control and emotion, among other advanced cognitive functions).

As well as gray matter, bilingualism also influences something called “white matter” — the fatty substance that covers axons, which connect the brain’s neurons.

Increased Brain Size

People who learn a second language could increase brain size, according to a Swedish study. Scientists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electrophysiology to study the visible effects of foreign language learning on the brain.

The study showed that students increased the volume of specific parts of their brains when learning a new language. Both the hippocampus and areas of the cerebral cortex developed in size.

KSS Immersion Schools provides Spanish immersion programs for preschoolers. With locations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area — Albany, Oakland, San Jose, and Walnut Creek — children aged two to six will flourish in a safe, social distancing-compliant learning environment.

Looking for a San Francisco Bay Area Spanish language preschool? Learn more here!


Combining a quality early childhood education with a Spanish immersion program gives our students a leg up in their education and their lives. For parents who value multilingualism – beginning their child's formal learning with an immersion preschool is a natural fit. During this time, children’s brains are hard-wired for language learning and pick it up naturally. Bilingual children expand their awareness of the world and gain significant cognitive benefits. For students from Spanish-speaking homes, a Spanish-immersion education helps keep the family’s cultural heritage alive. There are many benefits of multilingualism and we are proud to support our students on their journey.

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