This is your (baby's) brain on Mandarin!

This is your (baby's) brain on Mandarin!

It's for real- Mandarin may make your kids more musical, better at math, and all around brainier. Image: Evymama's Mandarin teacher Maggie Duan is currently travelling in Asia. She returns to Evymama next month to teach her all-new Parent & Baby and Parent & Tot Mandarin classes!

Learning Mandarin may do more for kids than simply help them to communicate in Mandarin- which is in itself a desirable skill, as Mandarin has frequently been called “The language of the future”. A plethora of studies show that Mandarin positively affects the human brain in a variety of ways, from making speakers more musical to using more areas of the brain. Maggie Duan, an experienced teacher and native Mandarin speaker brings Mandarin learning for your little ones to Evymama next month with her Parent and Baby Mandarin and Parent and Tot Mandarin classes! 


How Mandarin can make kids more musical

As a tonal language, Mandarin has been shown to make speakers more musical, according to a study of 3 to 5 year olds, published in Developmental Science, which found: “Mandarin‐speaking children were more advanced at pitch processing than English‐speaking children but both groups performed similarly on a control music task (timbre discrimination). The findings support the Pitch Generalization Hypothesis that tone languages drive attention to pitch in nonlinguistic contexts, and suggest that language learning benefits aspects of music perception in early development.” (1)


The benefits of writing Chinese characters 

Research has found enhanced neural activity in the areas of the brain that control working, thinking, and spatial memory in children who write by hand. As Chinese characters are more intricate, it is thought that producing them stimulates the brain more dramatically in all areas used to produce handwriting. One study found that children educated in a language that utilizes Chinese characters had a better understanding of mathematical concepts than their English-speaking and writing counterparts. It is suggested that as Mandarin requires counting, ordering, and grouping to produce the characters, math skills are gained through language acquisition. (2)


Mandarin requires more “brainpower”

Several studies have found that Mandarin uses both the left frontal gyrus, the area traditionally thought of as “the language centre” of the brain, and also the right side, which is used for differentiating tone and pitch in music. A recent study revealed the neural dynamics between the left and right hemispheres in Chinese speech comprehension, meaning that speaking Mandarin really does require use of more areas of the brain! (3)


1. Creel, Weng et al., Speaking a tone language enhances musical pitch perception in 3–5‐year‐olds. Developmental Science, 2017. 

2. How hand writing trains the brain The Wall Street Journal, 2010

3. Ge, Peng et al., Cross-language differences in the brain network subserving intelligible speech. PNAS 2015


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