Why Everyone Should Be Able to Speak Two Languages in Our Globalized World
The United States is heading more and more towards a bilingual future, with over 40 million native Spanish speakers currently residing here — and that number doesn’t count children who speak both English and Spanish. With this ever growing population, it’s important that our education curriculums encourage bilingualism among children and support children who speak primarily Spanish at home learn English in school. Things like Spanish story books or bilingual lessons can aid these efforts. Knowing two languages has also been proven to have many benefits for bilingual people and can open up new doors when you travel as well. Additionally, in our increasingly global world, knowing two languages is an especially important skill to communicate effectively.
Why Is Spanish in Particular So Important?
A recent census shows that among all the languages in the world, Spanish is number two in highest use. There are almost 400 million native speakers globally — more people speak Spanish than English! Additionally, on a global scheme, Spanish is the official language of over 20 countries, many of which can make exciting travel destinations later in life.
Like mentioned before, Spanish speaking individuals are becoming a larger and larger percentage of our society. Some experts believe that by 2050, the United States will in fact be the largest Spanish speaking country in the world! Becoming bilingual and teaching your children to be bilingual will help them adapt to a quickly changing world. Spanish story books, a preschool Spanish curriculum, and an elementary school Spanish curriculum can all help foster that in children from an early age.
What are the Positive Benefits of Being Bilingual?
Being bilingual has many positive aspects — in addition to great bragging rights among friends and peers — it could help you have more access to jobs later and has the potential to make you smarter! Speaking more than one language can help improve your cognitive ability in areas that aren’t even related to language skills. It may also reduce your likelihood to have Alzheimer’s later in life. Being bilingual will also open the doors to being more curious about other languages and cultures — and research proves that once you’ve learned a second language fluently, it’s easier to pick up a third (or more!). Additionally, research has shown that employees who are bilingual earn around 20% more on average than an employee who only speaks one language.
It’ll also help you travel with more ease and efficiency — if you know the native language, you already have an inside track with the locals and navigating the country. No one likes the feeling of being stranded and isolated in a foreign country, so if you speak the language and run into difficulties, you’re well equipped to get yourself out of the mess.
What are Techniques That Can Help Foster a Culture of Bilingualism?
If you want your children to be bilingual, you want to start from a young age. Experts suggest the earlier the better — before the age of 10 is best, but if you can start them before the age of 5, that’s even better. Many countries have implemented mandatory foreign language studies by the age of 8 to foster bilingualism, versus the United States, where students wait until middle or high school to start learning a foreign language. If you start early, reading your child Spanish story books or enrolling them in preschool Spanish lessons could be a good option. Another option might be to look for schools with an elementary Spanish curriculum.
If you’re starting a new language from an older age, reading Spanish story books could still be a good option! Since they’re tailored for children with pictures and easy words/simple sentence structure, it’s a great building block for you to hone your own skills! They’re also generally pretty short, you won’t find yourself getting as frustrated and you’ll see how native speakers express things or what turns of phrase are common.
Fostering bilingualism in the United States can only have positive effects on our society and culture as a whole. Give your child the best headstart in life possible!