The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
– Ludwig Wittgenstein
One of the main reasons I started doing seminars for parents was the lack of information among many monolinguals in our community about the benefits of bilingualism. In the expat world, we meet many, many bilingual families, but there are also a lot of families who are strictly monolingual (let’s be honest, they are mostly English-speaking families…). I addressed it briefly in my seminal post (“But Dutch is a useless language”), and it’s come up again in my Friesland posts, but today, I’d like to give a little run-down of the Top 5 reasons monolinguals should consider using a language in their environment to promote bilingualism for their children.
Reason 1: The experience of acquiring a second language has great knock-on effects for children. Studies have looked at areas as far-ranging as maths and creativity, and found that either bilinguals come out ahead of monolinguals, or they are the same – no negative effects from properly introduced bilingualism.
Reason 2: Learning another language makes you more empathetic to others who are struggling to speak your language. And we can all use a little more empathy in our world.
Reason 3: Especially for expats: Having your kids learn some (or a lot) of the local language helps them feel more at home in the place they live, and they can take a little bit of it with them when you move on.
Reason 4: Acquiring a additional language at a young age (any language!) has the potential to turn your kids into better learners of other languages later on in life.
Reason 5: New research has found that active bilinguals do better in terms of aging – on average, they develop age-related memory diseases (Alzheimer’s) up to five years later than monolinguals. Managing more than one language is gymnastics for the brain, and keeps it healthy longer.
I am reposting this in support of the “International Mother Language Day 2015” campaign – if you’d like to share you bilingualism success story please email me.