This has led researchers to believe that children and teenagers should not be forced to learn foreign language and that more time can be spent on mathematics and other challenging subjects that require lots of time.
I agree that no one should be forced to do anything or have any such thing imposed upon him. What I have a hard time with though is the fact that there are clear advantages to being bilingual whether it necessarily makes you smarter or not.
There are also. plenty of indirect ways that it could potentially develop the brain of the person learning.
In addition, let’s face it. Many schools, at least of the past, have not been doing so great of a job helping students to become bilingual anyway. There are better schools today in this regard for certain age groups.
My critique is that in both the libraries and schools, there rarely seems to be an equal amount of Spanish spoken as there is English.
I have even been to a bilingual story time in which the speakers/book readers were native Spanish speakers but they were reading a book mostly written in English.
Make the effort!
I don’t get that at all. I translate all of my children’s books that are written in English. So what if my translation isn’t perfect. Often I ask natives for help.
In addition, I seek out books that are written in both languages, and books that are written in Spanish.
Jose Luis Orozco is a native Mexican singer/guitar player/songwriter and children’s author. Read this article about Jose Luis Orozco. More schools and libraries need to know about people like Jose Luis.
How many people do you know of who took Spanish in high school? Now, how many people do you know who took Spanish in high school who actually speak fluent Spanish (For those who do, high school was not likely to be their only resource).
I never took Spanish class at all. I don’t speak Spanish anywhere near perfection but I excelled far more in Spanish than in classes where I took other foreign languages. I did well in Japanese, but I switched schools during that time, so I no longer had easy access.
The writing languages of Japanese can be challenging to learn in a smaller school setting. There are three writing languages of Japanese. Hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Kanji is Chinese writing language (and likely one of a few).
The system gets in the way!
The fact that many people study foreign languages in schools and do not end up speaking it fluently is a reflection of the system we live.
In order to truly assess the advantages of bilingualism, we would need to build a society that supports bilingualism better.
Rather than build walls around the country, I personally believe that anybody who wants to get paid to help build more bilingual immersion schools should be employed to do it. This includes Latinos many of whom, like many Americans are very skilled in building and repairing.
In addition, native Spanish speaking mathematicians can teach classes like math. Or for Spanish speaking students, vice versa.
So what are the clear, undeniable advantages of being bilingual?
You can build more relationships with more people. It seems that for better or for worse I learn something from just about every person I have come across. Whether the person is good or bad doesn’t affect whether the experience of having known someone teaches me important lessons.
You don’t even necessarily have to be close friends with anyone to learn things from people of other cultures. Of course, you can learn things from anyone. However, you have twice the literature, twice the amount of friends, twice the media and twice the music when you learn more than one language.
Another obvious advantage to being bilingual is the fact that employers tend to prefer bilingual or multilingual workers. Even if you plan on owning a business, being bilingual or multilingual will help you in more ways than you can imagine.
Being bilingual or multilingual connects families better. In families in which more than one language is spoken, some members, particularly the older ones, only speak one language.
If the child is taught to speak two languages (or however many are spoken in the family), the child will be able to communicate better with grandparents and elders who did not have access to information their grandchildren have today.
Of course I do believe that anyone at any age can learn a new language if he or she really puts forth the time and effort.
Multilingual/Multicultural people are more aware of global issues
So it is great to understand and pay attention to the politics of the country you live in but it is also great to understand what is going on elsewhere.
I believe that everything is connected. Growing up with asperger’s syndrome, I in particular was so much in my own world that for some time I knew little about politics and issues around the world.
Now, I am a politically oriented person and feel deeply affected by all the issues facing not only this country but the rest of the world. I understand now the doings of the government, the FDA, the USDA, and the general system.
There seems to be a connection between the quality of life elsewhere, and the pain and poverty suffered here in the United States.
You probably cannot fix a whole lot of problems here in the US when you choose to ignore the problems of another country (especially the country at your border and the two of you are fighting a horrific drug war).
I am not saying that other countries should not be responsible for their citizen’s welfare, I am saying that we should assure they are. That would be the greatest wall against drugs and human trafficking, eh?
It would save us lots of human lives and lots of money. That money can be used to build those immersion schools. We need to preserve cultures, but we also need more cultural connection among different cultures.
For students, bilingualism teaches grammar
If you are the type who learned or is learning another language by studying, you will learn a lot about grammar in general. This really opened my mind up to thinking outside the box.
This opens up potential employment opportunities to individuals who understand grammar and teach it.
So what did I miss? I am sure my readers can think of plenty more advantages to being multilingual. What do you think about the news finding that bilingualism does not make you smarter? Leave a comment below.