While bilingual education seems like a simple topic for a person to choose and stick with, it is actually a more complicated issue than most of us think. What would be thought of by a certain person as a pro may be considered by another as a con. It is worth noting that different people in different parts of the world have different language needs, and since it pros and cons vary from one to another, it is important to evaluate them. To help you assess this issue, here are separate lists of the pros and cons of bilingual education.
List of Pros of Bilingual Education
1. It makes it easier for us to learn more languages.
The part of your brain that is responsible for learning new things and encouraging spatial growth can be stimulated further with bilingual education. Studies reveal that such training leads to increased brain growth and increased ability to handle multiple tasks at once. So, once you have opened your mind enough to learn a second language, it becomes even easier for you to learn another and so on. When you become bilingual, you will increase your ability to focus on learning new tasks, which also triggers increased concentration and makes multitasking much simpler.
The world is getting smaller every day, and children who have the ability to communicate fluently with a variety of people and cultures are the most likely to rise to the top in a world that is becoming more global than anyone could have imagined.
2. It will be a necessary skill in the future.
As the minority-language-speaking populations continue to rise, children who have learned to speak multiple languages will be highly sought out on the job market. In certain states and communities in the US, for example, the Spanish-speaking population is outnumbering those who are speaking English. Also, the Chinese and Hindi populations are rising steadily. This means that children who are prepared to adapt to this change will be better-equipped to face the problems in the future, as opposed to those who only speak one language.
3. It makes a better-rounded child.
While skeptics believe that bilingual education can confuse a young student, studies prove that it enhances the mind and provides child with a much brighter future, making it easier for him to understand and relate to other cultures. A child who is capable of grasping other languages can open up a larger world to himself and is much more likely to be worldly and cultured. He will be able to study abroad and gain more from his experience than those foreign students who are not capable of speaking the predominant language. Moreover, he will have access to a valuable gateway to positive interactions with other races, leading to rapid personal growth and skill development.
4. It offers multiple personality benefits.
There are plenty of personality benefits children can gain from learning to speak multiple languages. Studies show that those who show the ability to handle such learning have increased their ability to process new sounds, particularly those who use separate languages regularly. These children are also far less likely to experience personality disorders, including anxiety. They are typically less lonely than their single-language-speaking counterparts. Generally put, they have higher levels of self-esteem.
List of Cons of Bilingual Education
1. It poses difficulty for foreign language students to assimilate easily.
One of the most frequent criticisms of bilingual education is that it causes foreign language students to avoid total assimilation into their local culture. After all, in order for us to fully adapt to our country’s current culture is making certain sacrifices, and one of these is our dominant language.
It is stated that bilingual education can widen the cultural gap, as opposed to bridging it. Thus, it becomes more difficult for foreign language students to experience success in other school subjects, such as science and math. To solve this issue, those who speak a minority language should be thought to speak English, while also allowing them to hold onto their native tongue and cultural traditions. Learning a second language should never be an either/or proposition.
2. It reduces focus on a career.
When a child is obliged to spend much of his time learning a second language, he will be limited to develop skills he would need in other areas. Specializing in a particular area can stunt his overall development and can actually lead to a lack of well-rounded learning.
Aside from this, teaching a child to learn a second language can consume a great deal of time and can cause frustration for both the teacher and the student alike. And if the child becomes frustrated with learning, he might also act the same way towards other subjects. Remember that some children respond well to bilingual education, while others don’t. So, it is crucial to spot warning signs in them not to burn them out on learning altogether and adversely affect their opportunities to reach their true potential for their desired careers.
3. It causes lack of qualified teachers.
One prominent problem in bilingual education is the severe lack of qualified teachers to handle the subject. Quality bilingual education requires an expert, patient and firm teacher who have the time in his hands to take care of issues that may arise.
Unfortunately, these professionals are in very short supply, and many of them are already busy teaching the usual subjects, ridding them of the time needed to teach a second language. At a point in time when so many of their capabilities are being stretched to the limit and schools are struggling to fill the gap, the idea of taking skilled bilingual instructors and assigning them to teach what they do best will not be something that is universally supported.
4. It is quite expensive.
Schools are struggling to keep foreign language programs funded as is, and facilitating a dominant language program is far cheaper than educating minority language students. So, if a student does not really understand the language he is being taught, the budget allotted to such a program would be a complete waste.
Now, do you support this type of education? Or, do you think that it does more harm than good in most situations? With the pros and cons mentioned above, you should have gained a better understanding of this issue and come up with a more informed decision.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.