Being bilingual means that you can use two languages fluently. Nowadays, this is no longer uncommon since most of the young people speak two or more languages well.
Billingualism has a number of benefits not only for a person's future career prospects but also for their worldview and way of thinking in general.
If you want to know more about what are these advantages are and how Singaporean children can benefit from knowing a second language, keep reading.
Better career opportunities later in life.
Let's start with the obvious reason your child should be bilingual. Needless to say, knowing a second language is a big plus on your CV.
The world nowadays is becoming more and more globalized, and it is increasingly important for companies and organizations to establish ties with foreign countries; thus, knowing a foreign language is essential in any job. And we are not just speaking about international languages here.
Even if your child ends up learning a second language, which is not so mainstream, they will somehow benefit from it in the future.
Bilingualism increases brainpower.
Researchers who study brain activity suggest that learning a foreign language is an excellent way of developing your brain and keeping it healthy for a long period of time. Learning a second language can help your brain's overall development when you are young, but it can also help prevent deterioration of the brain at an old age.
Researchers have also found out that people who are bilingual have better multitasking skills, have better attention control, can solve problems easier, and are, on average, more creative and able to think out-of-the-box.
Being bilingual can also have a positive effect on your memory, no matter what your age is.
Bilingual children have an academic advantage.
A number of studies have demonstrated that children who speak two or more languages perform better at school than those who speak only one language. As we have already mentioned, bilingualism develops a child's brain, which in turn has a positive effect on their ability to study and memorize new material. Bilingual children are also, in general, more literate and have a deeper understanding of the intricacies and connotations present in the languages they speak.
Knowing a second language opens the door to another culture. Bilingualism increases children's awareness of other cultures and exposes them to diverse ideas, customs, and perspectives, which may be very different from the ones practiced in their home country.
Cultural understanding is becoming increasingly important in today's global society, and it is crucial that young children learn from a very young age to respect other cultures, which is something bilingualism can help them achieve.
Bilingual children can acquire a third language much easier.
When the child speaks two languages fluently, it can help them immensely in the future if they ever decide to learn a third (or even fourth) language. When a Singaporean child speaks two languages fluently (English and Mandarin, for example), it means that they are familiar with two different writing, lexical and syntactic systems.
This means that if they ever decide to study a third language, they will be able to compare it to the ones they already know, and these comparisons will make the new language far easier to comprehend and learn.
Bilingual people have better social lives.
Being bilingual can improve your self-confidence and enhance your social skills. Bilingualism gives Singaporean children the opportunity to make friends with more children. If a child speaks a language that is popular internationally (such as English, German, French, Arabic, etc.), they will be able to make friends all over the world with the help of online technology.
To put it simply, the more languages you speak, the bigger the number of potential friends you can make.
Bilingualism fosters a sense of cultural identity within a family.
One of the major reasons children grow up bilingual is the fact that their parents have immigrated from a different place. And while it is important to learn the language of the place where you have moved in order to fit in, it is equally important to maintain the ancestral language and thus maintain your cultural identity and heritage.
Access information that may not be available in your first language.
We are living in the age of technology in which a vast amount of information is available to us at a click of a button.
However, the information Singaporean children have access to can be rather limited if they only speak one language. Even though parents tend to approach information posted on the Internet with caution (as they should), there is still a lot of good stuff out there!
If your child knows more than one language, they can access various articles and video footage which may help them broaden their horizons and gain more knowledge about the events that are happening around the world. This access to a wide range of information may even help them do better at school since they will be able to conduct more thorough research for their school projects.
When you speak another language, it gives you a different perspective and makes you view things in a new light.
Researchers have discovered that bilingual people see the world differently (literally!) Bilingual individuals perceive differences in the variations of colors that cannot be recognized by monolingual individuals. So that shows you the impact that learning a second language can have on how perceptive your brain is.
Also, researchers have discovered that our character can shift slightly depending on which language we are speaking at that moment. A professor at the University of Illinois interviewed French individuals who are fluent in French in Portuguese and discovered that they acted slightly differently when speaking either one of these languages. There were differences not only in their manner of speech but also in their mood and tone.
To conclude, the benefits of being bilingual are substantial and numerous. A second language is one of the best tools you can give your child to enable them to succeed in life on both professional and personal levels.
And even if you don't speak a second language yourself, this is not an excuse for your child not to be bilingual, especially nowadays with so many language tutors available at the push of a button.