Do you remember your time at school? How much you had to learn? You had to juggle your math homework while also studying for biology and English, not to mention you had a music project coming up next week. We had tons of things we needed to learn. So why would we want our children to learn a second language when they’ve already got so much to learn? What advantages do bilingual children have, if any?
Childhood Benefits That Only Bilingual Kids Have
Emotional benefits of raising a bilingual child
Although raising a bilingual child can be a struggle at first, your child will reap the advantages from an early age. This could already be possible from the moment your child can talk. At a young age, our minds are like sponges.
Let’s look into those benefits in more detail.
- Increased ability to monitor their environment – At first, your child will constantly be on the lookout for the need to switch languages. If a family member only speaks Dutch, your child will be monitoring the environment to look out for this Dutch family member. As soon as the child spots this family member, he will know that he needs to switch languages to make himself heard by that family member. The same goes for friends, colleagues, and anyone else speaking your child’s second language. You can compare this to the way we monitor our surroundings when we’re driving.
- More sense of connection to ancestors – This one really depends on whether the child learned to be bilingual due to a parent being from a different country or simply because it’s useful. When a child inherits a native language from a parent, they will have more connections to their ancestors and culture.
Educational benefits of raising a bilingual child
Now, this is where it gets interesting. Raising a child bilingual from an early age can give them many advantages later in life and while they’re young. This is why it will all be worth it in the long run.
By raising a bilingual child, you’re setting your child up for a bright future!
- Reading will be easier – Studies have shown that bilingual children develop reading skills easier. This is due to them being aware of using language as a tool rather than a passive part of their lives which they have no control over. They can better understand language usage at a young age.
- Better at creative thinking and problem-solving – On average, bilinguals tend to score higher on tests that require creative thinking or problem-solving. When they’re talking in two different languages, they translate abstract concepts from one language to another, which gives them the ability to look at problems in more than one abstract way.
- Stronger overall skills in their primary language – This is one of the benefits your bilingual child will notice later in life. When they’re young, bilingual children can often be perceived as progressing more slowly when it comes to early language development. Later in life, those same children usually have a higher level of skill in both their primary and secondary languages than their monolingual peers.
- Better at picking out the necessary information – Being bilingual exercises cognitive flexibility. Due to this flexibility, bilingual kids are often better at focusing their attention on relevant information, which gives them the ability to seed out unnecessary distractions. This makes the process of learning new things a lot faster.
- Able to learn new languages quicker – They have already learned a first and a second language, which is hard enough by itself, but they can learn a third language quicker thanks to their bilingual childhood. They have an improved understanding of how language works and can learn a third or fourth language using the experience they already have.
Practical benefits of being bilingual later in life
Of course, the benefits of being raised bilingual do not end when their education ends. There are many practical benefits to being raised bilingual, and we’re going to name the biggest benefits for you.
- Traveling becomes easier – Of course, not every country will be a walk in the park, but there are many countries where being bilingual will come in handy. This is especially true if the second language is English, Mandarin, French, Spanish, or Russian. If you want to develop your child’s mind even more, then you should try traveling with them at a young age so they can experience new ways of thinking, doing things, and creativity. Basically, to teach your child different cultures!
- More job opportunities – This one depends on your career choices, but there are more job opportunities for bilingual adults in general. Bilingual professionals are in high demand, especially when it comes to languages like French and German. The demand for multilingual professionals is increasing, and it will continue to grow in the future. Of course, there’s also the possibility of finding your dream job in the country of your second language when it isn’t possible in your own country.
- Able to acquire more information – One of the wonders of speaking two or more languages is acquiring information in several languages. Sometimes there’s just more information available in a different language than your own. Let’s say your primary language is Dutch, and you want to get more information on a game that’s being released soon by an American company. The chances are that you’ll acquire more information on the release by searching the game in English than in Dutch. Often a lot of information gets lost in translation when it comes to news sources. Finding the complete information in the second language can mean the difference between still not knowing anything and knowing everything.
Is raising a bilingual child hard?
For the parents of a bilingual child, it could be a struggle at times. But the important question is whether it’s actually doing your child any good.
Aside from the benefits we have named above, your child won’t be confused or distracted. Children’s brains are very flexible and can learn a new skill or language very quickly. There are no major disadvantages to being bilingual when you ignore the fact that you’ll sometimes mess up your words trying to communicate in two languages simultaneously. But hey, let’s be honest, even monolingual people tend to mess up their words and forget how to speak sometimes, don’t they!
There are certainly childhood benefits that only bilingual kids have, and the good news is that it does not stop in later life! Speaking more than one language will give your child more communication methods and open their life up to easier travel and more cultures!
The world is a huge place and one that needs to be discovered. It opens up your eyes and mind as you travel, which I really enjoy in life!
Make it easier for your kid to enjoy traveling too.
When your child is learning their ABCs… then you could be teaching them a second language too!