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Bilingual Education Pros And Cons: Both Sides Of The Coin

The pros and cons of bilingual education are not quite as easily defined as one would hope. Some peoples pros are other peoples cons. Some peoples cons are insignificant to others, while the pros are less than appealing. The very nature of pro/con lists is that they are personal; something unique for you. I will try to give a fair assessment of the bilingual education pros and cons as I see them.

Bilingual education pros and cons vary per person and per viewpoint or end-goal of that person. For the people who’s goal it is to raise little world citizens who know, understand, enjoy, and appreciate the various cultures and languages of the world, the pros will far out weigh the cons. For people with slightly different goals, the results may be slightly different. Let’s first get started by looking at my bilingual definition. Once we do that, we can begin to understand what I mean by bilingual education.

Most times bilingual education is referenced, it is done so with regards to non-English speakers learning English in a school setting. I am basing this list off of the bilingual education pros and cons with regards to raising bilingual children on purpose in the home or school setting.

Is There A Place For Bilingualism In Education?

    Well, personally I believe the answer is yes. So much research has been done in the last 10 years regarding bilingualism in education that it is astounding. A lot of the things we thought were correct about bilingual education in the United States has actually been proven to be false in the last 10 years. Myths such as that in bilingual children speech delay is common are perpetuated by those against bilingual education; not scientific research. I will ignore such false, unproven statements in my bilingual education pros and cons.

    The Pros of Bilingual Education:

    It’s hard to even know where to start with the pros. So many benefits of being bilingual have been validated recently that choosing just a few for this list is difficult. I have written on most of these topics before, so I will just present a short description and a link to the other areas for a more in-depth explanation.

    The pros of bilingual education that follow are from a post I wrote here on bilingual education.

    • Bilingualism encourages flexible thinking.
    • A bilingual shows increased concentration and focus.
    • Being bilingual makes helps one be better able to prioritize and manage multiple tasks.
    • Someone who is bilingual has an easier time learning a third, and subsequent, languages.
    • It promotes brain growth in the area responsible for spatial navigation and learning new material.

    The following pros of bilingual education, or of being bilingual in general, come from a post I wrote here on the benefits of being bilingual.

    • Bilingual children, and adults, have improved working memories.
    • Bilinguals have an enhanced ability to process sound strengthened by using two languages regularly.
    • Bilinguals suffer less anxiety, loneliness, and have higher self-esteem.
    • It is less common for them to externalize aggression and anger as well as argue less.

      bilingual education pros and cons

    Apart from those bilingual education pros and cons, the world is obviously becoming more and more inter-related. International organizations are now the norm, Brazil, Russia, India and China are the raising stars of the world, and English, while still dominant, may not always sit on it’s throne. I don’t think the coup will happen anytime soon, but it may be coming. As is the safe approach in investing money, it wouldn’t hurt to diversify a bit. I want to take the same approach with my child’s future as I do with my 401k.

    Those Against Bilingual Education Say…

    Talking about bilingual education pros and cons with regard to bilingual education at home, not in the school system, finding the case against it is fairly difficult. Thousands of articles exist spelling out why bilingual education is bad for America, costs money, distracts people, brings down the ‘regular’ English kids, etc… but not many people are on their soap box exclaiming one shouldn’t raise a child bilingually in the home for any specific reason. Due to a lack of research materials, I will just give anecdotal evidence as to why I think this is. And I may implore the use of logic. I know, it’s scary. Here we go.

    • Raising bilingual children is time consuming.
    • Bilingualism can be expensive; language classes, private schools, materials, etc.
    • Monolinguals have a hard time because everything has to be outsourced.
    • In America (or whatever country) the main language is all you need.
    • Speaking more than one language is weird.

    Whether you agree with the pros of bilingual education or are against bilingual education, I hope you learned a little something from my list. I wanted to present the pros and cons of bilingual education as I see them. My list of bilingual education pros and cons is probably still biased, as I am obviously an advocated for, not against, bilingual education. If you have anything to add to my list, pro or con, shoot me a comment here, send me an email, or share it on our Facebook page!

    Bilingual Education Pros And Cons: Both Sides Of The Coin Featured pics by: Sean MacEntee

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    About Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson is a husband, father, author and bilingual living and working in the Midwestern United States. He lives with his Mexican wife and their son, Liam, who is currently being raised bilingual in English and Spanish.

    2 comments… add one

    1. Benjamin

      I was honestly very surprised when i read the title. My reaction was something like “WHAT, there are cons to being bilingual?”. And after reading your article, I am still convinced the pros clearly outweight the cons. And you obviously do too since you write a blog about it :).

      The excuses for not raising a bilingual kid look more than laziness than anything else. They would actually all work to answer the question “should children go to school”. School is time and money consuming too. At the end raising a bilingual kid is certainly more time consuming (for money I don’t know), but it’s clearly worth it in my opinion.
      Benjamin recently posted…How to never forget vocabulary againMy Profile

      1. Jeffrey Nelson

        Benjamin,

        I agree – mostly. Laziness doesn’t fit in every situation, but most of the time it’s probably a good start. Laziness sounds harsh, but overly-busyness or some form of that is perhaps more accurate :)

        Thanks for your comment.

        Jeff

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