Some studies show bilingual people are less likely to suffer from dementia, which often affects the elderly. Bilingualism develops the mind from infancy until old age. Using multiple languages and switching between trains and exercises the mind continuously.
Until recently, scientists and educators regarded children's bilingualism as a kind of obstacle to their development. And, there’s ample evidence that in the brain of a bilingual child, both language systems are active even when the child only uses one language, which means one system can block the other. However, such interference is increasingly seen as an advantage, as it forces the brain to resolve this internal conflict, which can strengthen the brain. It’s been proven that bilingual children are often more adept at solving all kinds of intellectual puzzles.
Why do parents choose bilingual schools?
Parents decide to enrol their kids in a bilingual school, or another kind of language school, for several reasons. One is the desire to improve their linguistic skills from an early age, which later on will provide them with a better start and opportunities for further education. Another relates to the origin of the child. Parents of two nationalities, who are often bilingual, usually want their child to be fluent in both parents’ mother tongues. If they speak to the child in two languages from birth, they’d like to continue this throughout their schooling.
Currently, the popularity of bilingual schools is growing. Many schools in Canada now offer learning in two languages. These include English-French, English-Spanish, English-Mandarin, English-German, and English-Polish schools.
Some bilingual schools are international schools, meaning they have students from many countries. Such a cultural "mix" helps kids learn the value of diversity and other traditions and worldviews. Education in bilingual schools isn’t only about learning and mastering a language, but also about getting to know other cultures and their traditions.
Another advantage of private bilingual schools is usually they have modern facilities, like many other private schools. Classes often have the latest multimedia equipment, and libraries are often full of literature in both languages. Some of these schools also offer great sports facilities such as gyms and outdoor sports fields.
Five key brain benefits of bilingualism programs
“In the last 20 years or so, there's been a virtual explosion of research on bilingualism," says Judith Kroll, a professor at the University of California. Research has found the benefits include enhanced:
- Reading comprehension
- School performance and engagement
- Diversity and integration
Bilingualism in adulthood
Bilingualism in adulthood can be beneficial in one’s work life. People who are fluent in more than one language, even without much professional experience, have a better chance of getting a desirable job. Graduates of bilingual secondary schools often choose to study abroad—they make global decisions about their future.
The language barrier and fear of an unknown environment are a common reason why dreams of further education aren’t fulfilled. Bilingual children are less likely to have these linguistic inhibitions, and they’re more likely to undertake education abroad and learn new languages because they’ve had exposure to more than one language from an early age.