Multilingual and Monolingual Kids
We are living in a global economy. Most of us live in multicultural communities. What are the benefits of teaching your kids a second language?
- 1. Multilingual kids tend to experience socioeconomic advantages over their lifetimes. Multilingual kids can more effectively communicate with a broader range of people than can monolingual kids. A larger circle of friends can be formed when not eliminating whole groups of people (i.e., non-English speakers) up front. As adults, multilingual people can garner higher incomes because they are able to help their organizations communicate with their foreign vendors, customers, subsidiaries, sister companies, and others. In this global economy, employees who are multilingual possess a valuable workplace skill.
- 2. Multilingual kids tend to be more adaptable, culturally savvy, and accepting than monolingual kids. If Jane has never been to a quinceanera (a Mexican rite of passage that occurs on a girls’ 15th birthday, which marks the end of her childhood and the beginning of her adulthood) and is unfamiliar with cultures and languages other than her own, she may experience discomfort when her classmate announces her upcoming qunceanera. Jane will not know what is expected of her if she attends the qunceanera, and she may be sufficiently isolated in the context of her own culture that she may not know how to inquire or feel comfortable with inquiring about the expectations of her relative to the qunceanera. Further, people tend to be more critical or judgmental about people and perspectives about which they have limited knowledge: thus, Jane may find a qunceanera to be an inferior rite of passage relative to similar rites in her own culture.
Many other benefits exist as well, but the two benefits listed above are profound. Therefore, this author recommends that you start teaching your kids a second language as early as possible, as language learning skills diminish as we age. Take your kids to foreign-based events in your community (i.e., Cinco de Mayo), learn and share foreign words for common household items (i.e. what is the Spanish word for sofa?), watch foreign films together, enroll together in a foreign language class for early learners, and get to know people who speak other languages. By doing these things, you can help create the opportunity for your kids to enjoy a large group of good friends, easier social discourse in a multicultural community, higher incomes as adults, and greater adaptability, acceptance, and cultural savvy.
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