Benefits of Raising a Bilingual Child

28th Jun 2013

Are you looking for ways to help your children and provide benefits for their future education and career? One possibility that you may have overlooked is bilingualism. Beyond the ability to speak two languages, there are several benefits in learning a second language. From improvements in mental abilities to a more adaptable lifestyle, here are some reasons to consider teaching your child another language.

There have been several studies which have shown positive effects on the memory. With information being organised for two different languages, it should come as no surprise that there would be some improvement as the brain has to work harder in order to integrate all the information. Another effect on mental abilities is the improvement of executive function, which is what allows a person to focus on a task while discarding irrelevant information. Tests have been done that show an improvement in the ability to multitask in people who are bilingual. And, it seems the more fluent a person is in both languages the greater their executive control becomes. And finally, it is possible that bilingual people have a smaller chance of having dementia or that the symptoms are suffered later in life than that of a monolingual person. Fluency in two languages exercises the brain, in short, keeping it healthy.

A bilingual child can have a chance at a more diverse education. There may be more exchange trip possibilities during school. This could allow a student to more easily go to another country that they might otherwise have avoided due to a language barrier. Another language will also allow your child to read books in another language and gain a different perspective on the subject matter. This could be particularly useful in history or politics to gain a perspective from another’s point of view. And, of course, it’s another outlet for gaining knowledge of another culture. It doesn’t have to stop at bilingualism either. Knowing some languages can make it easier to learn other languages that share similar roots. In doing so, they can increase their knowledge even more. There are people who know multiple languages and your child can be among them.

A bilingual person may have a better chance at getting a job. There is a growing need for multilingual people particularly in healthcare and the business sector. In the rising global economy there is more need for interpreters and translators. The demand for Chinese, Russian and Spanish in particular is on the rise. More businesses both offline and online want workers who can speak another language, so there is a definite advantage for those who can. Bilingual workers are often paid more as well.

If your family or a part of your family is of a different ethnicity than that of your current location raising your child to be bilingual will not only help him integrate into your current country, but also still keep him tied to your familial language. Your child will be able to communicate with those around her as well as extended relations who may only know their own native language. Your child can remain connected to her family’s culture and history.

And, of course knowing another language can bring about a greater understanding of the diversity in our world. A bilingual person will have more flexibility and be better able to adapt. A child who understands something in two different ways gains a better understanding of the fact that things can be understood or described in multiple ways. Bilingualism can also broaden a person’s social circle. After all, two languages instead of one means you can communicate with people of either language rather than only one. There is a greater chance of successful communication. This is especially true for interaction online where there is an even greater chance of meeting someone speaking another language. A child may also be able to feel more comfortable in multiple environments, knowing he or she can still communicate and that will continue to adulthood. It can help foster a greater willingness to travel to other countries. Knowing, understanding and accepting at a young age how diverse our world is, a child is more likely to grow into an accepting and more caring adult.

A child raised to be bilingual will certainly have some advantages. Whether a family is teaching their child their own native language and the language of the place they’re living in or whether a child is just learning a second language other than what the family knows, she can enjoy the benefits of bilingualism throughout her life.

The majority of my colleagues at Pearl Linguistics are bilingual, meaning that we are able to help our clients, not just with language issues, but also with cultural understanding. It is partly through this that we have become one of the UK’s leading providers of language services to public sector organisations and multinational companies alike.

Mo Shah, Finance Manager


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