Advantages of Having Bilingual Children
When I think of the effect that bilingualism has on the individual, the family, and society as a whole, one simple word immediately comes to mind: “Good” – or, if you know more than one language perhaps “Bueno” (Spanish), “Bon” (French), or “Hǎo” (Mandarin) come to mind as well. Here are six advantages that Cultural Bytes suggests of having bilingual.
Good for the Individual
- Cognitive Development
A 2004 study by psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin-Rhee found that bilingual youth were more successful at dividing objects by shape and color versus their monolingual peers who struggled when the second characteristic (sorting by shape) was added.(1) This study, along with many others, suggests that the bilingual brain is able to problem solve, switch children
focuses, and hold information in the mind better than a monolingual brain. This can show up in small tasks, like remembering a cell phone number, and bigger tasks, like switching between subjects at school.
- Protection from Alzehimer’s Disease
According to a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers from the University of Edinburgh in the UK and Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India found that people who spoke two languages did not develop dementia until 4.5 years later than those who were monolingual.(2) Though there is no fail-safe prevention for Alzheimer’s, why not do everything in your power to set your child up for a better chance at preventing it?
Good for the Family
- Emotional and Social Development
Being bilingual becomes especially important for the child who is going to be around family members who speak different languages. The child will be able to form deeper bonds with Abuela (Spanish for ‘grandmother’) or Zǔfù (Mandarin for ‘grandfather’) if they can communicate with them in their own native language. Speaking more than one language can also increase a child’s capacity to communicate and express him or herself, boosting confidence and social enjoyment.
- Connect to Their Heritage
A multimedia journalist named Nadya Faulx shared her feelings of ethnic inadequacy in an online article: “Without Arabic, little else about me is Arab. I don’t dress or look like an Arab […] Without Arabic, can I even call myself an Arab? As proud as I am of my Arabic heritage, without a linguistic marker to link me to the community, I’ve never felt entirely comfortable identifying as an Arab.”(3) If you want your son or daughter to connect with their heritage, we can’t think of a better way than by giving them the gift of the native language.
Good for the World
- Appreciation of Different Cultures
There is a saying that, “a frog that spends his life on one lilypad will think his pond is the world.” Learning a second language is an amazing way to broaden your children’s perspectives and help them experience the diversity and beauty of the world that is different than their own ‘pond.’
- Greater opportunities for travel and employment
Being able to speak the language of different countries unlocks the possibility of deeper connections and understanding as they travel. Chiqui Social, a Spanish immersion preschool and social club, puts it this way: “Language education is becoming critical for the workforce of the future and being bilingual can broaden career options. Many jobs in education, healthcare, international business, politics, national security, translation, tourism, and social work require or favor candidates who are bilingual, resulting in more job opportunities for those who can speak a second language.”(4)
These are just a few of the hundreds of advantages that bilingualism brings to your child. Though the process of language learning can be difficult and challenging at times, we think it is worth it and will set your child up for many good things, both now and in the future.
P.S. If you’re looking for the perfect online language program to help your child with their Spanish, Virtual Language Camp or ‘ViLaCa’ is the one for you.