“Having your child learn two languages at the same time will confuse them, won’t it?” “You know that teaching your child multiple languages is just going to cause a speech delay?”
Have you heard these assertions too? These are common questions that many of us raising bilingual kids hear. The answer is “No” to all of the above. Learning two languages at the same time does not negatively affect speech development. On the contrary, it might help the child overcome the problem faster. To give you some assurance, here are ten benefits of being bilingual.
Benefits of Being Bilingual from a Young Age
1. Better concentration
When a bilingual child tries to speak, both languages compete to be spoken. The child has to quickly pick and suppress the other and switch between them in a second. This ability helps kids to focus better in a noisy class and mute all other irrelevant sounds.
2. Arithmetic and problem-solving
Bilingual kids have better mental alertness, which helps them to solve problems much easier. A study by psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin, shows that bilinguals have an easier time dividing objects by shapes and colors than their monolingual peers.
3. Creativity and ability to hypothesize
Since their brains are used to decoding and interpreting two or more languages, bilingual kids have an easier time coming up with and explaining scientific ideas.
4. Better language and vocabulary
Bilingual kids do better in word reading and spelling because of their understanding of sounds and tenses. This gives them an advantage over others when they start learning languages in class.
5. Brain exercise
In a bilingual child’s brain, both sides are always on alert and active even when they are speaking one language. The brains work a little bit more than a monolingual brain, which enhances their cognitive abilities.
6. Better communication
Multilingual kids have mastered the art of interpersonal understanding and listening, which makes them better communicators. This is more of a benefit of growing up in a multilingual environment where you have to listen to other’s perspectives and understand them.
7. Better memory
Learning two languages means you have to retain a lot of information and be ready to produce it at will. This helps kids with memory in school work as well as other important stuff like directions.
8. Faster response
Have you ever noticed that children take a while before responding to a command or an incident? Learning multiple languages forces the brain to quickly switch from one language to another, depending on who is speaking to you. As a result, the brain gets used to quick response and shorter reaction time.
9. Improved social life and better family connections
Speaking a second or third language opens up a whole new world out there to enhance your social skills. Being able to communicate with people from different cultures is a confidence boost and an ice breaker. It also helps to relate better with family members from that culture.
Multilingual kids are more open-minded and adaptable because you have already exposed them to a different level of tolerance. They are also more accepting and understanding of others, which translates to compassion and empathy.
At a young age, bilingual acquisition is as natural as learning how to walk or crawl. Kids who learn decoding skills in one language will easily translate to English or any other language. Multicultural parenting may not be the easiest, but it comes with many benefits for the children. As we have seen, there are multiple benefits of being bilingual.