04 April, 2012

Bilingualism, brain tissue, and associative thinking

Papa´s little boy seems to be really into puzzles lately. He has recovered his once fleeting interest in some puzzles that he didn´t find so attractive 2 or 3 months ago.
I think now he considers them a challenge and something really fun to play with. He also loves to praise himself clapping hands and saying “bieeeeeen!” when he matches 2 pieces together. Following this renovated interest, Mum and I have been recently prowling around several toy shops, trying to hunt down some new preys to feed our little cub´s hungry brain. In this search we found some nice ones with animals, which he loves, but they were all recommended for children above 3 years old or 3-6 years old. We thought this would be too complicated for a 22 months old baby, but anyway we bought them because we found the colors and the themes very nice.
The thing is we have been surprised (shocked in fact) as after playing twice with them he associates perfectly the animals with the food they eat both in Spanish and English, and he responds with no mistakes to questions such as:
“Who likes to eat honey?”-“BEAR!”
“and what does the bunny eat?”-“CARROTS!”
“and how does granny say BEAR?- “OSO!!”
…and then going way beyond where we could imagine… “Hey man, could you tell me which ones, out of this figures, are animals?” (Clock, doggy, house, snail, bee, tree…). He failed as logically expected, and then PAPA just explained to him which ones were animals. Some days after when he was asked the same question he picked them out correctly, help by the fact that “animals have eyes”, so he started driving the attention to figures with eyes, and then he related this puzzle with the other one (which has nothing to do in shape, purpose, color or design), being the trigger the fact that he had just put together the 2 pieces of a fish, and seals eat fish in the puzzle that matches animals with their food.  
It´s not that I´m saying that he should be in MENSA or he is a super-gifted baby, but I can´t help but think that being raised bilingually is giving him some abilities to develop associative thinking and it might be making him be more aware of things going on around him. I also must say that he is by no means being forced or intentionally driven to perform any kind of mental training or anything of the like. He shows a special interest in linking things, and it looks like as he physically connects the pieces, he also connects thoughts and concepts.  
P.D. Ok yes, I must admit that PAPA thinks a little bit that he is the most adorable and also the smartest baby in the planet Earth… But I guess this is just me being Papá… 

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