First Born Siblings Show Better Second Language Skills

We already told you that your older sibling was probably the reason you were doing well in life.

Now, a new study confirms the ‘golden child’ status of the eldest sibling: the first-borns are better at adopting a second language.

Researchers examined the effect of three variables – number of siblings, birth order, and presence of an older sibling at school age – are linked to language skills of bilingual children.

The research questions were tested using an ethnically heterogeneous sample of 1209 bilingual children who spoke German as a second language. The researchers controlled for the children’s age, sex, nationality, number of children’s books at home, family language, and parental German language skills.

The findings – achieved from hierarchical regression analyses – showed an inverse relationship between the number of siblings and second language skills: the more siblings a child had, the lower was his/her second language proficiency. This relationship was mediated by attendance in early education institutions.
Of course, it also showed that first-born siblings showed better second language skills than later born siblings.

The study reveals, then, that the resource dilution model – the decrease in resources for every additional sibling – holds for second language acquisition. They also indicate that bilingual children from families with several children benefit from access to early education institutions.

So, basically, if you’re thinking about an overseas vacation this summer, you may want to bring your older brother or sister along. 


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