Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Importance of Being Bilingual/Multilingual

As I mentioned in one of my first posts, I believe the benefits of acquiring additional languages stretch well beyond simply being bilingual.  It is something I am passionate about, and the reason why I am dedicating so much time and energy to our little dual-immersion homeschool.  Here is my list of additional benefits:

Children who acquire a second language have a global mindview.  They realize that there is a much bigger world out there than what they can see around them.  They understand that God created a rainbow of people who speak a myriad of different languages.  When they learn a new language, they can connect with people of that language.  It builds bridges.

Children who acquire a second language are more well-rounded.  I believe being bilingual is as critical a component of being a well-rounded individual as sports, music, or art.

Research shows that children who acquire a second language have better problem-solving skills.

Children who acquire a second language will have better opportunities.  They will be more competitive in the job market, have better travel opportunities, and have more service opportunities.

Once a second language is learned, the door is opened to acquire more languages.  Additional languages can be learned easier since the brain already knows how to organize, store, and output foreign language.

If you're interested in how I became so passionate about bilingual/biculturism, here is my background:

I grew up in a little bitty town in the middle of Missouri, Pilot Grove, population 720.  We didn't do much traveling.  It was a huge deal when we went to the St. Louis Zoo my fourth-grade year.  While I didn't have any exposure to other languages/cultures, my Grandparents were able to travel all over Europe.  My Grandma showed me pictures and told me stories.  I didn't realize it at the time, but she planted the travel bug in me!

I took Spanish in high school and immediately fell in love.  As I learned the language bit by bit, I felt like I was slowly being let in on a secret.  I couldn't wait to travel somewhere and be able to share my secret with people who would understand.  My first semester of college I began looking into study abroad programs.  I ended up going to Costa Rica for a semester my junior year.  After that I was completely in love with Latin American culture.  As soon as I got back I began planning my next trip--Honduras to do mission work after I graduated college.

My time abroad has offered me some of the best experiences of my life.  They were also some of the most eye-opening experiences of my life, and they forever changed me.  I hope to offer my children some of the same eye-opening experiences, but at a much younger age.