Knowing two languages or bilingual education involves educating a child, in the primary and secondary language. However, it is a controversial and widely debated issue. Let's take a look at some advantages of bilingual education.
Did you know?
The top 5 most spoken languages around the world are Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Arabic, and Hindi.
Many schools, colleges and universities have included foreign language courses in their academic curriculum. There are many acts, amendments and concepts introduced from the Bilingual Education Act (BEA), and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to English as a second/foreign language. These acts were set up to encourage students in learning a new language.
The Bilingual Benefit
Bilingual education is applied according to the particular country or region. For example: In India, a student is taught English, Hindi, and a regional language as per his location, or can even opt for a foreign language instead.
In today's world of globalization, knowing a foreign language gives one an opportunity to study and work abroad. It is helpful while traveling to foreign countries, which have a different language. It helps in communicating effectively and being independent of translators and interpreters.
Acquiring knowledge of a new language not only plays a significant role in breaking down barriers, but also assists in making lifestyle choices, or is essential when making new friends around the world. In many parts of Europe, knowing three to four languages is a very common phenomena.
Bilingual individuals have two or more words for each object and idea. The person develops the ability to think more flexibly not only with words, but also with other things. Once you know two languages, it becomes easier to learn another language.
A bilingual person gets access to more information and choices. To read a book or a poem or to listen to a song in the original language is a completely different experience than to read/hear the translation.
Did you know? Children aged 3-8 years are able to pick up a new language at an amazing rate. A language is usually closely related to the culture of the speaker. It helps him to think creatively and lets him read different lingual books or literature. He is open to the option of listening to diverse music, and is also introduced to different cultures.
Bilingual children have also demonstrated superior storytelling skills, perhaps because they are less bound by words and more elastic in thinking due to the knowledge of two languages. In any case, bilingual parents are passing a rich heritage or culture on to their children, who would eventually pass it to the next generation.
Knowing two languages places one in a position to think about the language, reflect on its functions, and to treat it as an object of thought. Many researches have proven that a bilingual individual arises as a better problem-solver and is efficient in multitasking.
Parents and educators need to be committed and prepared, as bilingual development is a long-term affair. They need to give it a serious thought and ensure that the child is continuously exposed to both the first and second language.
Being bilingual creates a bridge between generations, especially with grandparents. Being able to communicate between generations helps to establish a sense of belonging to the extended family.
Exposure to a second set of customs, traditions, and history provides a different viewpoint on many questions and makes life a lot more interesting and rewarding.
Current research from around the world shows that a bilingual person does better in IQ tests compared to a monolingual person of the same socioeconomic class. So, isn't it in the interest of one and all that bilingual education be promoted to make our children's life a little more vibrant and versatile?
"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart." - Nelson Mandela