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Is Being Bilingual a Must in Today's Society?
To Be, Or Not To Be Bilingual
Is being bilingual a must in America today? If you ask most employers, or our current President, then the answer is a resounding yes. Obama believes that it is less important for immigrants to learn English than it is for parents to teach their children a second language. That makes little sense to me. What he doesn't come right out and say, is that the second language we should all be teaching our children is Spanish. Of course, we get immigrants for all over the world, so limiting it to Spanish makes little sense.
While I do agree that learning a second language will broaden your children's education, and give them another skill that will greatly aid them in their futures, I do not believe that this language MUST be Spanish. I hope to teach my daughter German, the language of my family heritage. Others may say that it might be more useful to learn Chinese, considering the large amount of debt we owe them. They might be right on that one, but that is something better left for another debate entirely.
Language In The US
I do feel that it is very important for immigrants of all nationalities, who come to this country, to learn English. A majority of other countries do have an official language. The United States does not. If I were to move to France or Germany, I would have to learn the respective language of that country in order to fit in and survive. People who feel that immigrants should learn English are seen as racist. I don't understand this point of view, because there are immigrants from many countries coming into the United States all the time. How is it seen as racist, when it isn't just one race of people coming into this country? Whether you are Polish, German, Mexican, Chinese, or any other nationality, you should learn the language of the country you choose to live in.
I don't think that calling someone a racist for feeling this way is really a fair, or valid, point. There are immigrants coming into this country from all over Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Is it fair to the Polish immigrants or the Asian immigrants that Spanish should be the language we are teaching our children? I feel that you should be able to teach your children any language that you feel is appropriate.
Great Resource for Learning a Language
What Language To Teach?
So, what language, if any, should you decide to teach your child? Sometimes they make that decision for themselves when they get into high school, but studies show that starting at a young age gives children an edge on learning languages. Do what you think is best, after all, you are the parent. The President isn't your child's parent, and neither am I.
If you have French heritage, or family in Germany or Poland, why not teach them one of those languages? If you have family members that speak a language other than English, start teaching them the language spoken in your family. It opens the lines of communication and creates ties to a rich family heritage. Teaching a child a language they have ties to, and that is a part of who they are, makes a lot more sense to me than teaching them Spanish because someone else said you should.
Personally, I am trying to expose my child to as many different cultures and languages as I can. I am using her as a basis for what she will learn. Seeing what she picks up on easiest, and what seems to interest her the most. Recently, she became interested in the Norwegian side of our heritage, and took it upon herself to learn as much as she could about Norway, including a few words and phrases. She has learned several phrases in several different languages, and I know that can only benefit her in the long run.
So, really, don't let anyone tell you what you should be teaching your children. Make that decision for yourself. In the end, you are the one who knows the best as to what is right for you and your children.
© 2008 Anna Marie Bowman