The Value of a Bilingual Education
This is a topic I began to research when the birth of my granddaughter loomed over me. She will be bilingual with Spanish as her main language. What would she face in school? How will her education be different from mine or her mother's? How would a bilingual child face the world?
A truly bilingual education gives the child an extra boost in life and in careers. It will open doors that others will find closed or not find at all.
To Be Bilingual
What does it mean to be bilingual? It means more than just a few words of a second language. A bilingual person is someone who can speak two languages fluently. In other words, a person who can converse easily in two languages.
It is not someone like me who can greet in another language, count to ten, and know a few common words. I can't converse in any other language. I'm not bilingual. I cannot hold a conversation in any other language.
Start Learning Early
A person can become bilingual at any age, but it becomes harder as one gets older. Younger children have the brain function to easily pick up on languages and use them effectively. Language Garden says: "Bilingual children use parts of the brain that are no longer accessible in later life. The brain’s ability to absorb and comprehend language is sharpest in the first year of life and starts to decrease after 12 months...According to the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH) of early brain development, the first few years of life up to age 5 establish the time during which language develops swiftly and after which language acquisition is much more difficult." (https://www.languagegardenpreschool.com/about/value-bilingual-education/)
Young children have the cognitive abilities to learn other languages in a way adults cannot. They aren't locked into language rules which I have found holds me back in many instances. We want to force other languages to act and sound like our own. It doesn't work that way.
In my family's case, this is perfect as my granddaughter will grow up in a bilingual household. She'll be using her brain to expand languages in to create a stronger brain overall.
Studies have shown that a bilingual learning helps the person in many other areas including problem solving. Blanca Caldas Chumbes states, "There are a wide variety of benefits of bilingual education. We’ve found that bilingual people have more advanced cognitive skills than those who speak only one language; additionally, they develop multicultural skills to be able to thrive in an increasingly diverse society. It’s even been shown to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease." (https://cehdvision2020.umn.edu/blog/importance-bilingual-language-education/)
A bilingual education opens many doors within the brain that in turn opens up more of the world. You could say it exercises the brain early in life and allows it to have more power as it gets older.
Increased Job Opportunities
Knowing another language and speaking it fluently can open up a ton of job opportunities. As noted by BilingualKidSpot, "In today’s growing global economy, many international companies are increasingly searching for employees who are bilingual. Those with a bilingual education have the advantage. Candidates who are educated bilingually stand out from other potential employees especially if it is a language which is widely spoken." (https://bilingualkidspot.com/2016/07/21/bilingual-education-benefits/#:~:text=A%20bilingual%20education%20can%20strengthen,switching%20attention%2C%20and%20working%20memory.)
A second language shows that the person can adapt and open their minds to new ways to think and do things. They are versatile.
A Colorful World Awaits Them
Those who have a bilingual education show themselves to do well in school and in their jobs. They seem to see more than the rest of us do and in a different way. They are open to so much more and take advantage of it.
They seem to enjoy more of the arts and understand more of the culture around them. Because of their bilingual education, their brains seem to be open to so much more in the world. This means a bilingual education gives the individual a much bigger advantage than those of us who only are exposed to one foreign language. I'm glad my granddaughter will have this advantage. She'll have so much more to choose from as she grows older.