Adrian Garcia-Sierra

Bilingual Education Fair speaker shares insights on multilingualism and brain development

November 5, 2014

Adrian Garcia SierraDr. Adrian Garcia-Sierra, Assistant Professor in the University of Connecticut’s Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences joined the French-American Foundation as a panelist as part of the First Bilingual Education Fair of New York on October 11. The fair, organized in partnership with French Morning, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, and the Government Office of Québec in New York, explored emerging trends and benefits of bilingual education while giving families and others a chance to explore options in early-childhood language acquisition. After the panel, Dr. Garcia-Sierra joined the Foundation to share some of his research on the impact of second-language acquisition on cognitive development and brain function.

Adrian Garcia-Sierra was born October 31st, 1973 in Mexico City, Mexico. Adrian completed his B.A. in Psychology, at the University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico. From 1999-2002 he conducted research on infants speech perception with Maritza Rivera Gaxiola, at the Institute of Neurobiology in Queretaro Mexico. In 2002, he began his Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin where he conducted research on bilingual speech perception under the guidance of Craig Champlin and Randy Diehl. From 2007 to 2012 he conducted research on bilingual language acquisition as a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington under the supervision of Patricia Kuhl. Today, Adrian is an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut, Storrs where he studies how second language affects speech perception in young adults and infants.


 

Doctor Garcia-Sierra, we delighted that you could join us for one our panel discussions as part of the First Bilingual Education Fair of New York. Why don’t you start by telling us about your work researching the development of the human brain and how it relates to language acquisition?


Beyond being able to speak too languages, are there other benefits in terms of brain development and cognition?


In the United States, language education has historically started in high school, maybe with some exposure in late elementary school or middle school. You talk about early development of the brains of children exposed to multiple languages at home. What are the benefits or hindrances of starting to learn a second language at age 5, 12, 15 in a formal educational setting?