Advantages and Disadvantages of being bilingualism as a child
Bilingualism is a study of people who speaks more than one language. There are many advantages and good reasons to tackle multilingualism or bilingualism for a child. But there are still some disadvantages being bilingualism.
Definitions of bilingualism
Bilingualism is the ability to use two languages. However, defining bilingualism is problematic since individuals with varying bilingual characteristics may be classified as bilingual. Definitions of bilingualism range from a minimal proficiency in two languages, to an advanced level of proficiency which allows the speaker to function and appear as a native-like speaker of two languages. Bloomfield (1933:55): ‘native-like control of two or more language’
A person may describe themselves as bilingual but may mean only the ability to converse and communicate orally. Grosjean (1997): ‘the use of two (or more) languages in one’s everyday life, not knowing two or more languages equally well and optimally’
Others may be proficient in reading in two or more languages (or bi-literate). A person may be bilingual by virtue of having grown up learning and using two languages simultaneously (simultaneous bilingualism). Or they may become bilingual by learning a second language sometime after their first language. This is known as sequential bilingualism. To be bilingual means different things to different people.
Will Be Able To Communicate With a Broader Ranger of People
Being bilingual proves as a powerful asset when it comes to communicating to people in different cultural contexts. The world is becoming increasingly globalized and it is only logical to assume that bilingual/multilingual people will be the winners. Anyone who is able to break through the language barrier (be it in private or professional environment) will have an enormous advantage.
There are growing economic advantages of being bilingual. A person with two languages will have a wider choice of jobs, as it was increasingly needed in the retail sector, tourism, transport, public relations, banking and accountancy, administration, translation, secretarial work, marketing and sales, the law and teaching. Being bilingual is not a guaranteed meal ticket, but it gives people an additional valuable skill!
Children who have two languages tend to do better in the curriculum and to show slightly higher performance in tests and examinations - research from bilingual education systems as far a field as Canada, the USA, the Basque country, Catalonia and Wales shows this. Analysis of examination results in Wales shows that children taught in Welsh medium schools consistently outperform their English-medium equivalents
They Will Have Better Career Opportunities
Knowing languages is a real asset when it comes to employment opportunities. It is not a secret that multilingual people will always have a wider range of career options. With the increasing globalization this is the reality now more than ever and language knowledge will continue to gain more and more importance every day. Almost every sector is nowadays looking for people that are able to communicate in more than one language.
They Will Be More Flexible in Their Thinking
Processing information in two languages instead of one is a highly developed and rare skill that bilinguals will automatically acquire. For every object or idea bilingual kids will have two or more different words and they will instantly know which one to use in a specific situation.
This is an incredible advantage in so many ways even if it seldom is recognized as such. The kids will not only be able to quickly switch between different thoughts, they will also become very sensitive to people and situations.
Another advantage is the more flexible and divergent thinking. Researches actually show that kids who grow up with several languages think differently. They know from the start that there could be more than one word to one concept. So their mind stays more flexible and that often also led to the fact that bilingual children do at least as well in school as their monolingual counterparts, if not - and some studies have shown that - even better.
Build bridges to new relationships
Finally, the self-identity of the child will be affected as well. How? The child will see himself or herself as a language or culture bridge. It's not only that they just are this bridge, they are actually conscious about it! And that means that bilingualism actually affects the child, it's not just about communication, it's not just about functional benefits. It's actually about the personality, about who the child is. It increases, as a result, the self-esteem and the self-confidence.
Temporary Mixing of Languages
The child might mix up different words from different languages into one sentence.
Added Academic Load
Most likely the child will go to a monolingual school. Some have the advantage to go to a bilingual school, but the majority of children, even though they grow up bilingual or multilingual, they still go to a monolingual school. Which means that if we also want the child to read and write in their second or third or fourth language, we'll have to find a way to add that to the child's curriculum. So that means extra hours, extra work in the afternoons after the normal regular school. And that has to be organized and that is an effort that the child has to put in and ourselves.
Additional Effort for You
There is additional effort for parent. There's additional effort for organizing
language courses, there's money and time that might need to put in. But all parents would agree that the benefits are well worth the effort.
While there's no scientific evidence that proves multilinguals begin speaking later, many parents estimate that there is a three to six month delay compared to monolingual children the same age. If you think about it, it makes sense that a child learning two or more language systems might take more time, since they are actually learning twice as many words. Even so, six months is a small price to pay for the ability to speak two or three languages!
Mixing words is very common in children learning more than one language at a time. But this is a temporary phenomenon. At the age of four or five it has mostly disappeared. Don't forget that children who are learning only one language often use the wrong word until they learn the right one. When multilingual kids can't think of a word in English, for example, they might borrow it from Malay. This automatically disappears when the vocabulary in each language increases. The best remedy is to be consistent when talking to our child. Our patience will be rewarded, guaranteed.
Additional Effort For The Parents
This is probably the biggest issue. Raising a multilingual child is a commitment and much like piano lessons -- we can't expect our little one to be a virtuoso overnight. This is a long-term investment in our child. It will require extra effort on our part to provide enough language exposure, extra encouragement, keeping our language rules consistent, and in some cases even change the previous language pattern in the family. It can feel a bit awkward at first if we introduce a new language into the family when baby is born, but rest assured, after a few weeks it simply becomes a part of our daily routine. Incidentally, it's easier to raise a multilingual second child if our first child was raised that way.
There's no doubt that multilingual children have more advantages. Extra effort will give the children a valuable skill they'll use in numerous ways for the rest of their lives. Bilingualism is important nowadays. It will affect the rest of their lives, and those of their parents. Being bilingual, multilingual or monolingual can affect a child's identity, networks of friends and acquaintances, schooling, employment, marriage, preferred area of residence, travel and thinking.
Therefore, there are so many benefits to knowing more than one language that multilingual child will no doubt be grateful to us forever. With many old myths it is sometimes difficult to make head or tail of it.
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