Why is it important to be bilingual nowadays?

Bilingual people have the ability to speak and understand two languages. And being bilingual has numerous advantages, especially in today’s multicultural world. Not only do bilinguals take advantage when it comes to economic and social opportunities. And this helps them excel in their professional career.

In recent years, the public’s interest has been piqued by the concept of extensive bilingual education. Schools for years forwent a second language education, but today more and more public and private primary school are exposing young learners to more than one language. Take a look at the importance of being bilingual.

Research-Driven Importance of Bilingualism

As per research conducted by Peal and Lambert in 1962, intellectually, [the bilingual child’s] experience with two language systems seems to have left them with mental flexibility, a superiority in concept formation, and a more diversified set of mental abilities.

Then in the 1970s and 80s, further research revealed that bilinguals were more capable of problem-solving, critical thinking and meta-linguistic awareness. Cognitive scientists and neurologists discovered enhanced cognitive skills in bilingual speakers’ frontal lobes of the brain that support memory, high-level thought, multitasking, and attention.

In the 21st century, Athanasopoulos et al. advocated that knowing a second language can play a vital yet unconscious role in forming perception: By knowing another language, young learners can view the world through a different lens. 

Like hearing music from a single speaker or using a stereo, language works the same way.

Importance of being a bilingual speaker

Bilingualism positively catalyses change in society. It empowers the individual to empathise and comprehend situations from other’s perspectives, fostering tolerance. So bilingualism should not only be embraced but actively encouraged.

The world is only getting smaller

With an integrated global economy and increased mobility, geographies that could survive in silos now need to learn how to work with people from various geographies, backgrounds, and cultures. 

Being bilingual is especially important today as it equips young learners with language and crucial social skills. This is why many parents actively choose international schools for their children. 

Today’s Global Economy seeks a skilled Bilingual Workforce

Global markets are progressively becoming integrated, emphasising the need for bilinguals to conduct business and survive in global markets. Numerous research shows that an organisation prefers bilingual employee.

This is why multicultural, bilingual education is encouraged among young learners. With this, they can build critical skills such as cross-cultural competency, social intelligence, effective communication, cognitive load management, etc. Thus, more and more parents are investing in bilingual education to better prepare their children with the skills required to be competitive in today’s global workforce.

Growing Need for Global Citizens:

Issues are transcending boundaries and becoming more of a global concept. Critical issues such as cyber security, climate change, and social unrest require citizens of today and tomorrow to engage and navigate these complex global issues effectively. Bilingual education prepares an individual to get involved in these issues actively. Suppose young learners receive bilingual education right from the very start. In that case, it opens up a whole new world to them – they have access to multiple and better sources of information, imbibe a broader global perspective, and become increasingly effective collaborators and communicators. 

So bilingual education prepares young learners to become active global citizens who are capable of addressing current and future global challenges.

Bilingual Education Develops Important Cognitive Skills:

Cognitive skills are transferable skills spanning multiple disciplines and have become a prerequisite to thrive in today’s workforce and world. Bilingual education helps develop fundamental cognitive skills such as logic, problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking by exercising the brain. Learning a second language stresses young learners to think about how to express themselves and effectively convey their thoughts. 

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Bilingual Education Connects Individuals to their Heritage

Migrant communities often stick to their native language to develop close bonds, but the language gets lost over time. Bilingualism can connect communities and families with a mutual heritage. 

So knowing a language other than that of the country you reside in invokes a sense of pride, legitimises your belonging in another society, and facilitates active civic participation in the community. 

When you know two languages, it makes you feel accepted by both sides, and you can contribute to other societies, as well as the nation as a whole, by not feeling marginalised anywhere.

To conclude, bilingualism has become more critical today for more than just personal benefit. In today’s borderless world, limiting ourselves to a single language is outdated and this can limit young learners’ potential as well. Bilingualism is key to social and cultural sensitivity, open-mindedness and thriving in a globalised world.

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