The Importance of Bilingual Education
Let’s face it; we live in a world where there are many different languages in one country. Often parents will worry that bringing their child up in a bilingual education will cause them to fail in their first language. This is far from true.
Being bilingual opens the door for more opportunities for your child. Opportunities that people without these skills may miss out on. It also can make a candidate stand out among prospective employers. Many companies that specifically seek out candidates that are bilingual.
There are many benefits of a bilingual education. One such advantage is that kids are not only raised to be bilingual but also to be biliterate. Being able to speak another language is a big plus, being able to read fluently in the language is even better.
There have been studies in language development. One such study shows that when young children have more exposure to different languages at an early age, it can give them a distinct academic advantage throughout their life. There is often an argument that students should master English before branching out to others. The big question is why can’t both be taught at the same time? Bilingual children can focus more intently on the topics at hand. They are also able to avoid distractions from academic pursuits. Another benefit is they can demonstrate higher levels of cognitive flexibility, or the ability to change responses based on environment and circumstances.
For children to truly see the full potential being bilingual has on learning, exposure to other languages should begin long before Kindergarten. Even children who learn their first Spanish words at the age of five can benefit from a bilingual curriculum. After all, learning is learning. The more that children can take advantage of new concepts, the more in tune their brains will be to all learning throughout life. Studies have also found that the aging of the brain is slower and the employment rate is higher for adults who have bilingual capabilities. Why not set kids up for success and strengthen long-term brain health while we are at it?
If you are interested in raising bilingual children but don't know where to start, I recommend Reto Bilingüe A community of parents raising bilingual children.
A teacher passionate about bilingual/dual language education and language learning.
- Juliana Suarez