Educating Global Citizens

Success in the world today requires new ways of thinking, strong language skills, and an open mind. When more than half the world’s population is bilingual, mastering a second language and culture is a step towards joining the global community.

The human brain is wired to learn language in early childhood. The earlier children start learning a second language, the greater their chances of achieving full fluency. Immersion duplicates the conditions in which we all learn our first language—extended contact with a community of fluent speakers—and is by far the most effective way to learn a language.

Cognitive Advantages

  • Bilingualism increases mental flexibility for children. Bilinguals will have two or more words for a single object, concept or idea.
  • Bilinguals have better executive function and can multitask more efficiently than monolinguals.
  • Bilingual children are more willing and able to learn a third language, and show an increased analytical orientation to language.
  • Children who study a second language score higher on verbal standardized tests conducted in English. Bilingual children also perform better in math and logic skills than children with just one language. (The College Board, 2003)
  • Bilingualism helps protect against the onset of Alzheimer’s: speaking a second language is more effective than any medication currently available.

Social/Emotional/Interpersonal Advantages

  • Learning a second language helps children build self-esteem, creativity, problem-solving skills, and math ability.
  • Bilingual children maintain a strong sense of their own identity while developing sensitivity towards other people and cultures.
  • Since bilinguals need to be aware of which language to speak in which situation, a bilingual child is more aware of the needs of the listener.

Professional Advantages

  • Being taught in two languages gives children a head start in competition for universities and jobs.
  • Workplaces are international, and employees who are proficient in multiple languages and at ease in multiple cultures will have more opportunities.

Source: Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley, Berkeley, CA