It's becoming increasingly difficult to deny the fact that you're living in a global world. From the products you buy and entertainment you consume to the connectivity social media provides and the ease with which you can explore new things on the internet, there's never been a better time to broaden your linguistic horizons. If you're a parent, you might be wondering about the benefits to raising a bilingual child. Is it more effort than it's worth? One recent study would seem to imply that learning a second language is a smart choice.
According to CNN, 66 percent of the of the world's children are raised as bilingual speakers. So it seems like your child would be in good company if they were able to pick up another language in addition to their native tongue. Not to mention, it's never been easier or more efficient for your child to explore the world of communication. For example, there are plenty of educational apps to teach your child a second language, and most of them are free.
So if you're still on the fence as to whether or not there are solid reasons for your little one to learn more about linguistics, then check out these top benefits to raising a bilingual child to help you make an informed decision.
1. They'll Have A Better Foundation For Learning
Apparently, when it comes to learning a second language, the sooner the better. According to the Multilingual Children's Association (MCA), it's easier to learn another language from birth than any other time in life. That's not to say that if your child is in grade school that their window of opportunity has closed. As MCA further noted, it's never too late to learn another language, but the younger they start, the better foundation they will have for continuing their language studies as they grow older.
2. They'll Gain New Perspectives
Perhaps one of the biggest perks of raising a bilingual child is that they'll grow up with the ability to see and process information from various angles. As the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) noted, bilingual children have been shown to have more flexible thinking. That is to say they don't have difficulty adapting to or learning new information in a variety of ways.
3. Math Is Easier For Them
You might not think that words and numbers have much in common, but you'd be misinformed. As reported by the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC), "bilingual children have an easier time understanding math concepts and solving word problems." One possible reason for this, ECLKC noted, is that the cognitive capacity needed to learn another language complement the skill set required to process complex logic, like mathematics.
4. Their Retention & Attention Skills Increase
Wven a simple function like speaking requires so many different parts of the brain to interact. So it's no surprise that learning a second language can impact different cerebral regions. In an interview with CNN, pediatrician Dr. Gwendolyn Delaney said, "children exposed to more than one language have greater tissue density in the areas of the brain related to language, memory, and attention." Though this isn't a guarantee that your child will be a mini Sherlock Holmes, it's definitely a nice benefit.
5. They Could Stave Off Dementia & Alzheimer's
It may be weird to think about your child being a senior citizen one day, but it'll happen. As it turns out, raising a bilingual child now could help them in ways you wouldn't even expect, decades from now. As psychologist and professor of cognitive and linguistic studies Dr. Ellen Bialystok told The New Yorker, "when the brain keeps learning, as it seems to do for language, it has more capacity to keep functioning at a higher level." This sounds good on paper, but what does that look like in real life? Bialystok continued that those, "who speak multiple languages seem to resist the effects of dementia far better than monolinguals do." Again, it's not a promise, but any chance you have to improve your child's life is worth taking.
6. They Have Better Control
The National Center for Biotechnology Information recently reported that, "the need to manage two, jointly-activated languages leads to an enhancement of frontal-posterior attention control mechanisms with other types of cognitive control also enhanced, such as inhibitory control." In layman's terms, being bilingual means you have a better sense of control because science.
7. They're Expert Multi-Taskers
This benefit actually makes a lot of sense since learning and maintaining a second language requires a bit of mental multi-tasking. According to The Economist, "bilingual children outperform monolinguals at tasks requiring 'executive function': prioritizing and planning complex tasks and switching mental gears." Being able to adapt quickly is definitely a benefit that can serve your child well throughout their life.
8. They're More Creative
Perhaps it's because raising a bilingual child means you're introducing them to a variety of cultures, but regardless of the reason why, it seems that learning another language leads to more imagination and innovation. According to Kids Health, an educational site from Nemours, "kids exposed to several languages are more creative." Who knows? You might just have a future bilingual artist on your hands.
9. They're Efficient Learners
Simply learning something is good, but being able to process information quickly and efficiently is even better. Dr. Viorica Marian, a professor of Cognitive Science at Northwestern University, told The Dana Foundation that, "the neurological benefits of bilingualism extend from early childhood to old age as the brain more efficiently processes information." The fact that this benefit essentially covers an entire lifespan is astonishing in and of itself.
10. Their Cultural Appreciation Is Enriched
This might seem like a no-brainer, but according to the ECLKC, bilingual children are shown to be more accepting and appreciative of different cultures. That totally makes sense because if a child is going to learn a new language, it's not going to take place in a vacuum—they'll be absorbing information about various customs, traditions, and lifestyles in a positive way. After all, doesn't the world need a little more appreciation?
11. Their Career Opportunities Expand
Who knows what the workplace will look like by the time your child is old enough to become a contributing member of society. Yet it's a pretty safe bet that being bilingual won't hurt their chance of succeeding. As MCA noted, "career prospects are multiplied for people who know more than one language." Working in the fields of childcare, hospitality, education, technology, public relations, and more are all enhanced if your child can demonstrate a fluency in multiple languages.