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Ms. Graham's Multimedia Blog

Blog EntryBlog: Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Benefits of Two Languages

Bilingualism: The Positive Impact of Speaking More Than One Language By Patrick Barry Bilingualism is an advantage in the competitive world. Not only does the ability to speak another language increase the opportunity to communicate with more diverse peoples around the world in a pluralistic society such as increasing job opportunities in the United States, there are many cognitive benefits as well. According to Texas A&M University psychologist Jyotsna Vaid, research suggests that children achieve overall higher academic achievement than those receiving instruction in a second language or than monolingual groups (2001). In a recent study, researchers at Northwestern University “found that the bilingual participants [. . .] mastered nearly twice the number of words as the monolinguals” in comparative studies (2009). Kaushanskaya, co-author, states, We're seeing that exposure to two languages early in life carries far-reaching benefits [. . .] Our research tells us that children who grow up with two languages wind up being better language learners later on (2009). Aside from the advantage of becoming “better language learners” (Kaushanskaya, 2009), there are also overarching academic benefits as Dr. Oneyda Paneque, an author and professor at Miami Dade College explains: Cognitively, bilingualism appears to promote divergent, creative thinking. Several studies (reviewed in Baker, 2001) have found that fluent bilingual children are better at being able to think creatively and come up with original solutions to problems. They examine situations from different perspectives and are better divergent thinkers. In addition, bilingual children seem to have better metalinguistic skills and a deeper understanding of how language works (Paneque, O., 2006). The more research I conduct on bilingualism and come across such findings as referenced above, the more convinced I become in its lasting benefits. It just makes complete sense on many levels to advocate for bilingualism; culturally, socially, professionally and academically. The case in point is that bilingualism is an advantage for every individual, and it should become a cultural norm in all societies, specifically such societies that are as diverse as the United States. So, parents please help your children learn in your native language. Teach them to also read and write in your home language. If you can, send them to language school. It can only help them succeed. References: Northwestern University (2009, May 20). Exposure to two languages carries far-reaching benefits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/05/090519172157.htm Paneque, O. (2006). Good intentions, bad advice for bilingual families. Childhood Education, 82(3), 171-174. Texas A&M University (2001, October 16). Mental math dependent on language, researchers find. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 11, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2001/10/011015060024.htm

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