A recent study found that small children who live in neighborhoods where more than one language is spoken are more likely to learn from and interact with people from different backgrounds. This means, no matter what language is spoken at home if a child grows up in an ethnically rich neighborhood, he/she is more likely to be able to read the social cues from different people. The study reported that
“Infants’ direct interactions with caregivers have been shown to powerfully influence social and cognitive development. In contrast, little is known about the cognitive influence of social contexts beyond the infant’s immediate interactions with others, for example, the communities in which infants live. The current study addressed this issue by asking whether neighborhood linguistic diversity predicts infants’ propensity to learn from diverse social partners. Data were taken from a series of experiments in which 19-month-old infants from monolingual, English-speaking homes were tested in paradigms that assessed
their tendency to imitate the actions of an adult who spoke either English or Spanish. Infants who lived in more linguistically diverse neighborhoods imitated more of the Spanish speaker’s actions. This relation was observed in two separate datasets and found to be independent of variation in infants’ general imitative abilities, age, median family income, and population density. These results provide novel evidence suggesting that infants’ social learning is predicted by the diversity of the communities in which they live.