There is no doubt that being a bilingual has several advantages especially in the United States where there are numerous people from all regions of the world and from all races. A language like Spanish is widely spoken in the United States especially in the southern states (Garcia, 2008). I fact most individuals have realized knowing a second or even third language has significant advantages especially when it comes to issues of employment and increased opportunities. Essentially, bilingual education is a term or concept that has a both generic and specific meaning with regard to children who do not know English. It entails the presence of two instructional languages in educational institutions.
Bilingual education programs can be considered as either subtractive of additive depending on their linguistic goals, depending on whether students are encouraged to augment linguistic range or to replace their native languages with the majority language (Baker &, 1981). Most importantly, bilingual education assists students who have a language other than English in their homes and need to learn English. Additionally, English specking students can also endeavor to learn English with the aim of becoming proficient in more than one language. Bilingual education has various benefits, which include improved cognitive ability; increased chances of employment; and it increases an individual’s understanding of the native language. The primary purpose of this research paper is to provide a detailed and insightful analysis of the advantages of bilingual education.
There is a very close association between bilingual education and increased levels of thinking. According to Bialystok (1991), several positive gains or advantages are associated with the learning of a second language especially in childhood. Bilingualism has been established to foster and promote concept formation, creativity, classification skills, visual-spatial skills, analogical reasoning and other critical cognitive gains. However, all these advantages can only be accrued on condition of fluent bilingualism, that is, particular levels of fluency have to be attained by the students in both languages for them to realize the positive cognitive benefits of bilingualism (Baker, 2006).
In addition, by knowing two or more words for one idea or subject, bilingual individuals may possess increased cognitive flexibility. For example, the knowledge of two words-one in welsh and the other in English, for a single subject or concept (school) can bolster an individual’s concept and perception of “school”. In welsh; the word “ysgol” can refer to wither a “ladder” of “school”, therefore knowing the word “school” in English and “ysgol” in welsh provides the learner or student with the opportunity to have the conception of a school as a ladder (Baker, 2006). Further, bilingual students demonstrate greater and advanced story telling ability and this can be attributed to the fact that they are less bound by words and more flexible in thinking because they can express themselves in two languages. Bilinguals are often very conscious of which language to speak in specific situations and circumstances; therefore, they are more sensitive and responsive to the needs of their listeners as compared to monolingual individuals. Baker (2006) posits that bilingual education bolsters and enhances an individual’s intellectual growth and development. It augments a person’s mental development. In fact, research suggests the bilinguals are better at taking IQ tests as compared to monolinguals.
Building on the children’s previous skills
Ideally, Effective learning makes uses of the skills already possessed by the students as the foundation of building fresh skills and acquiring new knowledge. The need to enhance the previous experiences of young children is a fundamental principle of early childhood education in several regions of the world. Within this setting, there is a crucial collaboration between caregivers, parents and early childhood educators (Baker, 2006). Most educational settings strive to develop some level of continuity between the home and school learning. In fact, some of these institutions find creative ways of working hand in hand with guardians or parents who are not English speaking. Some of the educators when faced with different cultures and languages struggle and eventually lower their overall expectations of minority children may perceive discontinuation as an unfortunate yet unavoidable characteristic of contemporary schooling (Garcia, 2008).
A considerable number of students or children join school with primary language skills in their native languages or English. Therefore, the very crucial for the teachers to incorporate and use those skills to assist the students develop and expand the requisite academic competencies necessary for a successful life (Garcia, 2008). The educators should be able to recognize and understand the abilities of their new students with the aim of using these abilities as the starting points for considering what the students can do and how to ensure that all the students are benefiting from the learning process. Subsequently, all the potential bilingual children need sustained and significant opportunities to approach their learning in their native or home languages. By building on their prior skills and knowledge and by using their native languages, students or children are provided with the contextual basis that enables them to maintain the pace with their contemporaries while equipping themselves with the language they will critically need to interact effectively and efficiently in the current society (Rossell et al., 1996)
More Job Opportunities
There is no doubt that bilingual education enables advancement in two languages and this can prove to be very beneficial in offering future employment advantages and benefits to all the involved students. The demand for individuals who can speak and write in multiple languages is increasing significantly across in a variety of careers and industries, and workers with bilingual proficiency are definitely the potential beneficiaries. The population of Asians and Hispanics is growing steadily within the American society and is expected to triple over the next 40 years (Baker, 2006). Within this evolving and transforming cultural picture, bilingual workers in various trades or careers become more invaluable. For example, opportunities for Spanish speakers can be found in fields’ such as social work, business, finance and healthcare. In the west coasts, individuals who have the capability to speak in Japanese are also becoming very useful for employers in different industries. The need for bilingual workers is rising significantly is careers such as translation, tourism, healthcare and trained bilingual individuals are getting more career opportunities than ever. Further, research suggests that bilingual workers may earn higher salaries as compared to their monolingual counterparts of equal qualification (Garcia, 2008).
In conclusion, bilingual education means having two instructional languages within the educational institutions. The benefits of bilingual education are evident in both the professional and social lives of the involved students. I support bilingual education because it has the advantage of offering an increased sensitivity to language, added creativity in thinking and cognitive development; and increasing an individual’s understanding for native language. Moreover, bilingual education has the benefit of offering future employment advantages and benefits to all the involved students. The need for bilingual workers and employees is increasing considerably is careers such as translation, tourism, healthcare and trained bilingual individuals are getting more career opportunities than ever before. Even though bilingual education has some disadvantages, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.