I wouldn’t say I am fluent in Spanish or even native-like. I stumble upon some grammar, vocabularies and listening skills in Spanish. However, I can get by and people appreciate that I try. On a scale of 0 to 10, I would put myself at 6 or 7. I was born with a speech impediment. At the age of 5, I was doing some sign language when I wanted a banana or ice cream. My mother took me to a certain school to take a specialized test. In a nutshell, the results came out that my verbal skills were horrendous and my non-verbal skills – I was a genius. As a result, I went to see a speech therapist to work on my communication skills and English. The speech therapist was bilingual, Spanish being her first language. My mother and the speech therapist came to the conclusion that it was better to learn English only because I was falling behind in school.
When it was time to decide what to major in college, I choose Spanish in order to learn the language and culture that my parents came from. I had to learn how to write an essay in Spanish (I never did 10 pages in another language before), and reading Don Quixote in Spanish (I needed cliff notes in English to understand). It was a challenge but I worked extremely hard probably 10x’s more than the rest of the native speakers in my class.
When I taught Spanish and English to preschoolers, I felt like I was coming in full circle like everything made perfect sense. Maybe, the difficulty that I had with languages and speech made me appreciate even more the importance of storytelling, reading, and speaking.
I was reading this book called The Bilingual Edge, and I would highly recommend it if you want to teach your children a second language. We are living in a world where communities are getting even smaller due to the advancement of technology and transportation. We are living in a diverse culture that nothing is new under the sun. I am just going to sum up chapter 1- why it’s beneficial for a child to learn another language.
1) The Cognitive Edge: Bilingual children have more “metalinguistic awareness, creativity, and the ability to control linguistic processing” than monolingual children. This can inspire children in the areas of writing and storytelling. You don’t have to look any further for examples: J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter, majored in French and the Classics.
2) It enhances cross-cultural understanding: It is hard to understand a culture without language. Children that learn a second language have positive attitudes toward that community. They are also able to make friends due to their social skills and understanding of the culture.
3) It enriches family life, culture and communication: If your family came to America from another country, one would want to continue the cultural traditions. There are parents that want to maintain that cultural link with their children by celebrating the festivals and holidays. It also is important for the family to know their heritage and identity.
4) Educational and career edge: There is a demand of bilingual professionals in almost every field or sector. It is motivating that knowing another language could pay off in the job market. Schools are jumping in the action on the multilingualism market. Many elite and private schools have immersion programs such as Bilingual Buds (Long Island, NY) and Avenues, The World School (Manhattan, NY).
Thanks for joining the second book review on The Bilingual Edge.