By Jeffrey Nelson
From students to parents, the benefits of bilingual education run far and wide
For the purposes of this article, I'm going to assume bilingual education refers to dual-language programs or immersion programs at a state level. Obviously parents have the biggest role in educating children, especially with regards to language, but this article looks at it from a societal level.
The short answer is everyone. Let's break it down.
The children: They get to learn an additional language which helps increase their cognitive ability, memory,
They get to give their children something they may or may not have had; a language. Learning a language is, in my opinion, one of life's great treasures and I wish everyone could experience it. The hard reality is, however, that a lot of people don't. They can't find the time or don't make it until it's too late. This isn't fair. Watching your child excel at something that is natural for them would be exhilarating.
Schools today need to be reinforcing diversity-type training and acceptance. We need to get out of the mindset that everyone is, and should be, like us. Schools need to teach children to think, utilize resources, and solve problems in a way that is correct and unique. Language training does all of this. There is no one "right way" to talk. A person has to slowly muck through the words and vocabulary until they figure out a path to where they want to end up. This translates to other areas and is yet another benefit of bilingual education.
Utah is rolling out a massive expansion of it's dual-language immersion programs in Salt Lake City. They explained in the article that they are doing this because they need to get their children ready for the global economy. With large international companies holding a lot of clout around the world, we have to come to terms with the fact that an isolationist view of the world no longer works. That is fine, as long as we realize it. We need to adapt and equip our children with what they will need in 15-20 years to compete.
I've talked to family's who have entered one or more of their children into immersion programs and have seen the results. Their children speak fluently in a non-native language that they once studied themselves but never got to the apex of fluency. This particular case, the older child was going to help tutor the younger child through the summer so he could make some extra money from his mom. Language learning brings people together. It's one of those things ... like intense training in something or completion of a hard course in school. It's an accomplishment that fosters an environment of community and acceptance.
In my opinion, everyone reaps the benefits of bilingual education. Come join our community of bilinguals and aspiring bilinguals and get involved! Check out my authors bio below. Our page has a lot of great content on bilingualism and more is updated regularly.