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Research Paper

  1. 1. Arzenshek 1Alex ArzenshekMrs. LesterAdv Comp11 October 2011 The Benefits of Bilingualism in Children Approximately one in five or twenty-one percent of children living in America speakanother language at home according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association(“The Advantages of Being Bilingual”). However, more and more public school systems aredeficient in their foreign language departments. If a second language is so crucial to a child’seducational success and future, why are there such few adequate programs to teach childrenanother language?Research shows that bilingual children are better prepared for a role in societyand in the work force than children that only are familiar with only one language. The careerfield of teaching another language is rewarding because bilingualism is directly linked to higherstandardized test scores and advanced reading and writing skills. Current bilingual educationalprograms might be minimal, but the outstanding benefits of teaching a child a second languageare substantial: bilingual children are more prepared for the future, show increased braindevelopment, and experience improved educational success. To start off, the issue of monolingual children affects our nation’s economy as well as thechild’s academic success. Bilingualism itself is a superb quality, but parents and teachers mustknow how to properly teach the steps of learning a second language. In order to be bilingual, achild must acquire a first language, known as L1, and learn the second language, L2, throughnontutored exposure or instruction. The most common method of learning a second language isthrough the parents speaking and interacting with the child from birth. However, schools with an
  2. 2. Arzenshek 2experienced second language programs are familiar with the proper steps to teach children, sothe native accent and vocabulary are retained. Furthermore, bilinguals are defined as individualswho also know how to speak with eloquence and read and write analytically in two or morelanguages (Snow).In the current job market, bilingualism is not just a simple choice of whetheror not to learn another language; it is “a simple label for a complex phenomenon” (Zelasko). Inmost countries, children and adults are bilingual because more than one language is usedinterchangeably in schools and in the work force. It seems as though our nation’s children lackthe important skill and benefits of bilingualism. Specifically, there are two main categories thatdefine bilingualism—simultaneous and sequential. Simultaneous is when a child acquires morethan one language at the same time. Sequential occurs when the knowledge of one language isused to quickly learn a second language. It does not matter how the language is learned as longas the utilization of the language is continued because children that are bilingual tend to acquireanother language easier than children that are limited to one language (Alic).Studies show thatthe easiest and most beneficial method of learning a second language is through the family andpeople at home speaking and challenging the child’s knowledge. Overall, the results ofbilingualism in children are very helpful skills, but the L2 language must be taught properly andused constantly to reap the full benefits. Secondly, the impact of bilingualism in children is a constructive and helpful tool in achild’s success in life. For instance, bilingual education is common in schools throughout theworld. Approximately between sixty and seventy-five percent of the world’s population isbilingual; therefore, bilingual education is utilized in classrooms around the world (Zelasko).The impact of bilingualism in children shows that more children need to learn a second languagebecause “…it’s an important 21st century skill” (“One Language Isn’t”). In order to be
  3. 3. Arzenshek 3successful in school and in the career field, researchers have said that it is necessary to bebilingual. Particularly, bilingualism is no longer a characteristic of individuals; it is a feature ofsocieties (Snow).It is no longer adequate for children to be monolingual because the economy,society, and educational organizations of the United States prefer the knowledge of a secondlanguage. Schools must reorganize and reconsider their second language programs—forexample, bilingual education has been taught to students ever since the first colonists arrived inAmerica (Zelasko). Today, more children know the English language in addition to their nativelanguage. This advantage puts them ahead in the job force when compared to most of the UnitedStates’ monolingual children (“One Language Isn’t”). The impact of bilingualism on the world’schildren is evident because they have access to more career opportunities and a better salary.Bilingual children also tend to have a better understanding of their own language and culturebecause they comprehend the other language’s techniques (Marcos). All in all, the impact ofbilingualism is a global phenomenon that America’s children need to grasp in order to be acompetitive member of the world’s career opportunities. Following that, current solutions to teach more children a second language are beingpracticed in schools but not to the standards that are required of society. Specifically, an in-progress solution to teach children a second language exists in programs known as languageimmersion programs, foreign language in elementary schools or FLES, and foreign languageexploratory programs or FLEX (Marcos). There are many approaches to teaching childrenanother language, and all of the programs include English as a second language or ESL, whichrarely includes the child’s first language in the teaching (Alic). Public school programs areincorporating methods, such as interactive language learning, that were, at one time, seen only inbilingual and culturally diverse households.Additionally, research on solutions to increase
  4. 4. Arzenshek 4bilingualism in children shows that the benefits include, “increased cognitive skills, higherachievement in other academics, and higher standardized test scores.”Because learning anotherlanguage broadens a child’s vocabulary in their first language, their scores on standardized testswill increase in the verbal, reading, and writing sections.Expansion of the English vocabularywill assist children with all areas of their education, not just foreign language. Moreover,schools are considering a current solution to teaching children another language—to start in theearlier grades (District Administration). Children’s brains are more susceptible to newinformation and concepts; therefore, languages are much easier to acquire at a younger age.Educational programs are not just incorporating the teaching of another language, but also theideas of linguistics and culture (Zelasko). Hence, the current solutions to incorporate a secondlanguage in public education is progressing, which will help expand children’s ways of thinkingand increase test scores needed for higher education and job opportunities. Lastly, the outlook for bilingual children is very optimistic because of the multiplebenefits accompanied with the knowledge of a second language. Undoubtedly, children that haveknowledge of more than one language are almost guaranteed to be more successful in school,score higher on standardized tests, and solve problems more efficiently (Walton).By having amore intelligent next generation, the United States’ economy will most likely improve andbecome more stable. Learning a second language gives people a unique perspective on differentcultures which could allow the outlook of discrimination and prejudice to be more positive.Following this further, bilingualism is not just the ability to comprehend another language, but italso improves the child’s abilities in verbal linguistics, general reasoning, forming ideas, andthinking analytically (Alic). Bilingual children have several advantages—a flexible mind, asuperiority in problem solving and forming ideas, and a diverse way of thinking (District
  5. 5. Arzenshek 5Administration). Simply knowing a second language can open a child’s mind to revolutionaryideas and new methods of problem solving. Assuredly, when a child knows a second language,it gives him or her the competitive edge in the job market that now desires bilingual employees(Marcos). The outlook for bilingualism in children is very positive because research has shownthat tests of “executive function—a crucial skill that allows us to pay attention” is increased inbilingual children (Turgeon). Bilingual children have a competitive edge in the job marketbecause learning a second language is paired with cognitive advantages (Snow). Overall, thefuture for bilingual children is positive because of all of the endless benefits of knowing a secondlanguage in academics, in the job force, and in society. My reaction to the effects of bilingualism in children is surprising because many peoplewere not aware of all of the positive repercussions. Therefore, most people did not comprehendthe long term benefits that can influence the child’s life. From the better work opportunities tothe increased brain development, bilingual children have an advantage in life that will, without adoubt, make them more successful in life. Due to the positive outlook of bilingual children, thefuture for a career in teaching, researching, or promoting bilingualism is definitely worthpursuing. There are no outstanding reasons for anyone to avoid going into a career field thatincorporates bilingualism.
  6. 6. Arzenshek 6 Works Cited"The Advantages of Being Bilingual."American Speech-Language-Hearing Association .N.p., 2011. Web. 30 Sept. 2011. < news/tipsheets/bilingual.htm>.Alic, Margaret. “Bilingualism/Bilingual Education .”The Gale Encyclopedia of Children’s Health: Infancy through Adolescence. Ed. Kristine Krapp and Jeffrey Wilson.Vol. 1.Detroit : Gale , 2006. 241-245. Gale Virtual Reference Library.Web. 5 Sept. 2011. <>.District Administration.“Learning a Second Language: When & Why.”District Administration . Professional Media Group, 2011. Web. 6 Sept. 2011. <>.Marcos, Kathleen. “Why, How, and When Should My Child Learn a Second Language?”Kidsource.KidsourceOnLine, Inc, 26 July 2000. Web. 6 Sept. 2011. <>.“One Language Isn’t Enough.” Letter.The New York Times 20 Sept. 2009: n. pag. Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context.Web. 5 Sept. 2011. < NewsDetailsPage/ NewsDetailsWindow?displayGroupName=News&disableHighlighting=false&prodId=O VIC&action=e&windowstate=normal&catId=&documentId=GALE%7CA208086685& mode=view&userGroupName=cant48040&jsid=eb212d9b964a3eaef4d5db3aa8b3360f>.
  7. 7. Arzenshek 7Snow, Catherine E. “Bilingualism, Second Language Learning, and English as a Second Language .”Encyclopedia of Education .Ed. James W Guthrie.2nd ed. Vol. 1. New York : Macmillan Reference USA, 2003. 181-185. Gale Virtual Reference Library.Web. 5 Sept. 2011. <>.Turgeon, Heather. “Raising Bilingual Kids.”Babble .N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Sept. 2011. <>.Walton, Beth. “More children learn more than one language.” USA Today .N.p., 10 Jan. 2007. Web. 6 Sept. 2011. < children_x.htm>.Zelasko, Nancy F. “Bilingual Education .”Encyclopedia of Education .Ed. James W Guthrie.2nd ed. Vol. 1. New York : Macmillan Reference USA, 2003. 175-181. Gale Virtual Reference Library.Web. 5 Sept. 2011. <>.