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In today's interconnected world, learning to connect and communicate with people of different cultural backgrounds effectively is immensely important.
The ability to speak multiple languages is essential to thriving in the global economy, and a bilingual approach to education has proven tremendously beneficial to students.
Bilingual education refers to the practice of teaching school subjects in two different languages.
It is applied to help students transition from their native language to the languages used in the country where they now live, but it can also be used to teach academic content in two languages at the same time.
There are three main types of bilingualism: co-ordinated bilingualism, compound bilingualism, and late bilingualism. The first two types are developed in early childhood, while the third type develops when a second language is learned after age 12.
As communities worldwide become more interconnected, the ability to speak multiple languages takes on increased importance. Bilingualism is increasingly essential to surviving and succeeding in an integrated global economy.
Bilingual job applicants are more attractive to hiring managers, and employers are less inclined to lay off workers who speak multiple languages. The value of an individual who can effectively communicate and collaborate across cultures is at an all-time high.
There is a wealth of advantages, both mental and professional. Studies suggest that bilingualism, starting at the youngest ages, can havelong-lasting and profound benefits.
Here are 6 of the most common and exciting advantages to implementing bilingual education.
From higher test scores to surprising health benefits, the cognitive effects are astounding.The following are just a few of thecognitive advantages to bilingual education:
Exposure to two languages encourages students todevelop an appreciation for the differences in cultures. Bilingualism is more than just the ability to speak more than one language — it's a multicultural approach to interpersonal interactions that promotes emotional intelligence, and can dramatically improve an individual's social skills.
In a world of constant change, communication is increasingly important. Children who can communicate with a variety of cultures are those who will have the biggest advantage in life
In addition to the enhanced cognitive functions, switching between two languages easily helps children develop their literacy skills and enhance their verbal intelligence.
Along with the flexibility of switching between languages will be a more flexible thought process. They learn to focus on the key elements of the conversation / topic at hand. Younger children learning in a dual-language environment understand more the finer points of how language works.
Also, as students become fluent in more than one language, their options for university get broader. They have a wider choice as to which university they want to go apply for, and in which country, depending on the fluency of languages they speak.
Being fluent in an additional language can make a candidate stand out among potential employers who are hiring new staff. It also opens the doors to additional opportunities that are not available to those who only speak a single language.
Many international companies are increasingly looking for employees who are bilingual due to factors such as globalization. These are jobs with important incentives that are reserved for candidates who are competent in more than one language
A survey carried out by the University of Phoenix Research Institute, published in The Wall Street Journal, shows that workers with proficient foreign language skills are in high demand, and this trend looks likely to continue well into the next decade. Published reports by AOL also show that bilinguals are able to earn 5-20% more on their hourly wage.
Interestingly enough, research has also suggested that companies are less likely to layoff a bilingual employee and new research has shown that the demand for bilinguals in the workforce is rising. Moreover, cross-cultural competency, transdisciplinarity, sense-making, cognitive load management and social intelligence, all products of multicultural bilingual education, are listed as some of the most important skills needed in the future.
Studies suggest that bilingualism is associated with improved memory. Processing multiple languages simultaneously prompts the following memory-boosting physical changes to the human brain:
Bilingual education connects families and communities that share a common heritage and legitimizes their acceptance in the greater community.
We think bilingual education inherently expresses the importance of bilingualism and the acceptance of other cultures and perspective. This not only creates a sense of pride for individuals from different ethnic backgrounds, but also legitimizes their belonging in our society and facilitates more active civic participation in the greater community.
Bilingual education requires more time and dedication, which is why not all schools offer it. The good news is that there are many apps that make it possible for anyone to learn a new language on their own.
Teaching academic content in two languages can be very expensive, and the prices of bilingual education programs around the world reflect this. This is one reason why this education program model in its more intensive forms is typically limited to private schools, which are out of the reach of most students and families.