Enrolling your child in a bilingual school has tremendous benefits for their development that go well beyond them being fluent in two languages. We at BVIS specialise in bilingual education and therefore we have a Bilingualism Expert, Mr Preston Rybacki, who is responsible for promoting bilingualism in the school and creating a truly bilingual atmosphere for our students. Research studies show that the benefits of bilingual education include:
Better academic performance
Speaking a foreign language improves the functionality of the brain by challenging it to recognise, negotiate meaning, and communicate in different language systems. This skill boosts children’s ability to negotiate meaning in other problem-solving tasks as well. Students who study foreign languages tend to score better on standardised tests than their monolingual peers, particularly in the categories of maths, reading, and vocabulary.
Enhanced multitasking skills
Multilingual people, especially children, are skilled at switching between two systems of speech, writing, and structure. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this “juggling” skill makes them good multi-taskers, because they can easily switch between different structures. In one study, participants used a driving simulator while doing separate, distracting tasks at the same time. The research found that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving.
Better alertness and observation skills
A study from Spain’s University of Pompeu Fabra revealed that multilingual people are better at observing their surroundings. They are more adept at focusing on relevant information and editing out the irrelevant. They’re also better at spotting misleading information. Is it any surprise that Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot are skilled polyglots?
Improved decision-making skills
According to a study from the University of Chicago, bilinguals tend to make more rational decisions. Any language contains nuance and subtle implications in its vocabulary and these biases can subconsciously influence your judgment. Bilinguals are more confident with their choices after thinking it over in the second language and seeing whether their initial conclusions still stand up.
More effective communication skills
Learning a foreign language draws children’s focus to the mechanics of language: grammar, conjugations, and sentence structure. This makes children more aware of language, and the ways it can be structured and manipulated. These skills help to make children more effective communicators, and ‘sharper’ editors and writers. Language speakers also develop a better ear for listening, since they’re skilled at distinguishing meaning from discreet sounds.
Staving off Alzheimer’s and dementia diseases
Several studies have been conducted on this topic, and the results are consistent. For monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for those first signs is 75.5. Studies considered factors such as education level, income level, gender, and physical health, but the results were consistent.
Educators often liken the brain to a muscle, because it functions better with exercise. Learning a language involves memorising rules and vocabulary, which helps strengthen that mental “muscle.” This exercise improves overall memory, which means that multiple language speakers are better at remembering lists or sequences. Studies show that bilinguals are better at retaining shopping lists, names, and directions.
Better work and study prospects
Recent studies on how bilinguals fare in the labour market show that they have many advantages. A study by Robert Rumbaut at the University of California found that bilinguals drop out of university at a lower rate, have higher job status and earn a higher income than non-bilinguals in the same fields. These effects increased as their level of bilingualism increased. Other similar studies have shown that employers would prefer to hire a bilingual applicant over a non-bilingual if all their other skills are equal.
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