Many Latinos have been raised bilingually at home by their parents, only because Spanish was the main way of communicating with parents. Learning how to speak one language at home and learning English at school has been the way many have kept up their skills in speaking and understanding Spanish.
However, some parents have hesitated on teaching their children Spanish because of the stigma or fear that children won’t learn English properly.
Over the years, research has proven that there are plenty of benefits to being bilingual, regardless of the fears parents may have. As children are as absorbent as sponges, teaching them anything early is better, including speaking and understanding another language.
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1. Elevating the Status of Language
Everyone wants to be bilingual. The benefits are extensive, with plenty of research to show that students show improved and higher test scores in high school and college. Besides the educational benefit, the more that Latinos keep their language, the more tied to their roots they are. Plenty see the Spanish language as a tie to their history and battles fought to get them where they are today. The more people learn Spanish and are less ashamed to speak it, the more others will find a value in speaking multiple languages, thus elevating the status of language.
2. Keeps Alzheimer’s Disease at Bay
The brain, which acts as an executive control system, is supposed to focus you on one thing while dismissing distractions, specifically with language. This is what allows people in general to thinking of two things at once, switching between the two. As a bilingual person who consistently uses two languages instead of one, the brain becomes sharper in distinguishing what exactly is relevant at the moment a particular language is being used, manifesting a more advanced cognitive system. This also increases one’s ability to multi-task. In a recent study, Dr. Ellen Bialystok, professor at York University in Toronto, found that bilingualism prevents the onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms by five or six years and are able to cope longer.
3. Maintaining Native Accents
A child’s tongue has the capacity to shape itself to native languages up until the age of six. As long as a child learns the proper pronunciation of words and sounds of both languages, they will not carry too heavy of an accent in either language. Children who learn Spanish at home, for example, must continue to learn at home while at school to practice and carry on proper accents for future use.
4. Expansive Vocabulary
While monolingual people learn one set of vocabulary words, bilingual people learn two. It isn’t just a simple translation of a word, but an entirely new pronunciation and way of understanding an object or topic being discussed. For example, if a monolingual person knows 15,000 vocabulary words, a bilingual person will know double just for translations along with cultural cues and indicators, making a total of 30,000 words.
5. Future Benefits as Adults
Being bilingual has proven beneficial on multiple levels of understanding. In students, those who are bilingual prove to have higher test scores because of an advanced cognitive understanding. This is also exemplified in adults. People who are bilingual have more metacognition, which means that they’re a lot more flexible in their thinking. This means that bilingual people are better at thinking outside the box, thinking critically and become problem solvers, which makes them an asset in the workplace.