You may have heard that acquiring a second language presents many advantages for the learner. Since your children are learning Spanish, I wanted to use this opportunity to list some of the advantages as well as some facts related to this language.
Advantages of learning a second language
- Cognitive advantages. Being bilingual increases cognitive development, improves meta-linguistic skills, advances verbal and spatial abilities, and augments memory skills.1,4
- Bilingual people are better multitaskers. They are better at blocking out distractions, easily switch between tasks, and they can focus more than their monolingual counterparts.1,4
- Learning another language helps you learn your own. Since Spanish and English share Indo-European roots and have similar grammatical structures, at Bixby we are using Spanish to help your children learn the structure of English.
- By the same token, learning Spanish will improve their English vocabulary since Spanish has its origin in Latin and many words in English are of Latin origin.
- Speaking more than one language increases cultural understanding and, consequently, empathy.1
- Learning another language makes people smarter. Research suggests that people who speak two languages have more gray matter in the executive control region of their brain.2
- Bilingualism develops confidence. It also improves your choice making skills.5
- Speaking more than one language will not prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but it will help delay its onset by 5 to 7 years.1
- Speaking more than one language is a highly marketable skill.1
Facts about Spanish
- Spanish is the language with the most native speakers after Chinese, and it is the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world after English, Chinese and Hindustani. It is the official language in 21 countries.
- Traveling to Spanish speaking countries is more enjoyable when you are able to communicate with the locals.
- Learning Spanish—or any other language—as a second language is easier when you are a child, since our capacity to learn a language diminishes gradually over during our life times.3
These are facts the experts tell us. My opinion as someone who is bilingual, and as a Spanish teacher of more than 12 years, is that learning a second language is one of the hardest things we can do. But it is very rewarding. Little by little we discover the nuances of the new language and improve until, finally, we are able to express and understand ideas with fluency. From time to time I receive emails from former Bixby families that go like this: “…thank you for teaching my child Spanish at Bixby. Now that he/she is in middle school, he/she thinks that studying a second language is fun and not so frightening.” My daughter, who learned Spanish with me when she was a kid, is now studying her sixth language in College. The early exposure to Spanish gave her an appreciation for foreign languages and a hunger to learn more. It is rewarding to now see her growing into a worldly young woman.
1 Why it pays to be bilingual. Boxy blog Posted on Feb 15, 2011. https://voxy.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Billingual-01.jpg
2Science World Report sciencewr.com. Posted 8/14/2015.
37.07am EST The Conversations, Monika Schmid. Posted Feb 8, 2016.
4Science World Report sciencewr.com. Posted 8/14/2015.
1st-5th Grades: Spanish; 1st Grade: Handwriting