With an emerging global culture and the need for skills that surpass those ever needed by prior generations, education is attempting to keep up with the fast changing demands of the world today. One significant shift is the increasing number of charter and private bilingual/multi-language schools. Spanish, Mandarin, and French are just some of the languages emphasized in these new educational institutions.
Many teachers prepare themselves for the change by learning new languages or going abroad to teach English with TOEFL or TEFL certifications. On the other side of education, most parents find themselves questioning the traditional monolingual school approach and begin to research multilingual options.
Benefits of Multilingual Environment
There are many professional educators that praise multilingual education due to its benefits developing cognitive and communicative skills among monolingual children. According to Psychology in Action, these benefits can include flexibility, a better understanding of language structures, and even attention. In fact, studies have shown that multilingualism can postpone symptoms of Alzheimer’s due to the cognitive “muscle building” people who speak multiple languages do every day.
Social Awareness in a Multilingual Education
When a language is being taught, there is an innate infusion of culture that must be analyzed in order to fully grasp a language since the two are intertwined in every facet. Translating directly will not work, so most multilingual education models include a plethora of cultural topics within the curriculum so the students may understand not just how to say something, but when and where.
This leads to a more worldly perspective that combats many of the stereotypes and misconceptions that perhaps even some parents may still hold.
The Creative Factor
In addition to cognitive, communicative, and social benefits, there is a creativity factor that must be taken into account. Creativity happens in many forms, and linguistic skills contribute to creativity regardless of the form it takes. Multilingual people are able to problem solve, are typically more flexible, and are able to see other’s perspectives more easily.
The global market is such that this creative flourish is required for the new inventions, ideas, and innovative solutions needed to solve problems that younger generations are facing.
Multilingualism Leads to a Brighter Future
Multilingual education can also increase future opportunities. Technology and social media has connected the world as it has never been before and many new and high-paying jobs involve travel and working with people around the globe. Companies are constantly looking for workers that can speak many languages to work with their partner companies efficiently.
Speaking more than one language is rapidly becoming a prerequisite for jobs rather than just a bonus. With key languages like English, Spanish, and Mandarin, a person could be unstoppable.
The world is getting smaller by the minute. Where the future children will stand within this small world can be greatly impacted by how many languages they speak. As culture and the job market shift, the education system continues to evolve into what the children of tomorrow need. Right now, that appears to be multilingualism.