Bilingual advantages: Why learn a second language
In this article, I will show the science behind the idea of raising a bilingual child is good. We know that a bilingual child can have some specific brain benefits, enhanced creativity, and increased test scores but I will show some scientific findings that can help to persevere in the months and years ahead.
Bilingual children tend to be more creative than monolingual. But how can that be measured? On the test like “ How many ways you can use an empty bottle?” bilingual kids tend to have more answers and also more creative.
Example: monolingual can say ‘filling with water” but bilingual can say “filling it with sand and making a paperweight”. The researchers find this as “more mentally flexible”
Awareness of language as an object or system
Bilingual kids are more sensitive to the fact that language is a system that can be analyzed or played with. Metalinguistic awareness is what allows us to appreciate many types of jokes, puns, and metaphors. This sounds a bit abstract, but metalinguistically aware is also linked to important academic skills, including learning to read.
Metalinguistic awareness is something that a teacher wants to teach, and bilingual kids already have it.
It is very difficult to understand the culture without the language. It seems that children who are learning a second language in dual or two-way classes have more positive attitudes towards members of other ethnic groups or people who speak another language. Those children tend to have fewer stereotypes about other groups.
In a 1983 study, researchers Cazabon, Lambert and Hall wanted to see if children formed social groups based on ethnicity or language. While younger children showed some preference for friends based on ethnicity or language; by third grade, children were equally likely to have friends from different backgrounds. It was more important WHO they are more than WHAT they speak or look like.
Language and Culture
Learning a language is also a good way to learn about culture in a less obvious way. The language that we speak strongly influence the way we think. So, for instance in English we have one word for sour; in Spanish two: ácido and agrio. The kid that know two languages knows that there is more that one way to divide up and think about our shared physical and cultural world.
- Children who know two languages can gain a cognitive, academic, and social edge over monolinguals.
- Learning another language may promote positive cross-cultural attitudes, behaviors, and friendships.
- Knowledge of one’s heritage language can promote greater self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Advanced knowledge of more than one language is crucial in today's multilingual, multicultural world.