I get so many questions regarding why we are pursuing a bilingual education for our son. There are such diverse reactions when I bring it up, and I’ve heard everything from genuine enthusiasm to “Why are we spending tax dollars to force these kids to learn Spanish? We’re in America! They should speak English!” And like any hot topic, there are varying degrees of opinion in the middle.
For me, it wasn’t about the specific language choice, but that there was a second language. It could have been French, German, Mandarin, Japanese, Cantonese… Spanish certainly makes sense in this area, but frankly, any second language would do. But this isn’t an immigration issue. It’s about education. But it’s even bigger than that:
- Children who can speak more than one language have a greater capacity for creative thinking.
- Bilingual children are exposed to different cultures, foods, celebrations, and customs from other countries.
- Children in immersion programs typically score higher in their other core subjects.
- Learning a second language strengthens a student’s understanding of their native language.
We live in an area where cultural diversity is high. People from all over the world live here and many languages are spoken. We see this first hand at our playgrounds and our schools. The young children don’t seem to be phased by all the chatter, they just want to play. They don’t see barriers.
I want this attitude to continue.
We believe that learning another language and about other cultures is a great step in becoming a global citizen. Can we foster a culture of peace, acceptance, and hard work that starts young and continues into high school? I think we can. With travel becoming easier, the world is becoming smaller. Our future lies with these gentle souls, and it’s our job to get them prepared for their place in it. Bilingual (or multilingual) multiculturalism is the norm in most of our foreign trade partners. For our family, it starts now.