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It is estimated that between half and two thirds of the world’s population is bilingual or multilingual. There are more native Spanish speakers in the world than native English speakers, with 21 countries speaking Spanish. Furthermore, 13.3% of people in the United States speak Spanish. Therefore, becoming fluent in both English and Spanish is a valuable skill. Research shows that continuing to develop a child’s native language doesn’t interfere with English acquisition…it facilitates it! Being bilingual has social, cognitive, economic and personal benefits. Some of the advantages of being bilingual include:
Intellectual Benefits: Students who are learning a new language need to continue their intellectual development while they are building English fluency. Dual language education ensures that students do not have to wait the build content knowledge while they learn a new language. Furthermore, knowing more than one language increases a person’s attention span, flexibility, and problem solving skills.
Educational Benefits: Research shows that both English and Spanish speaking students often outperform their non-bilingual peers in academic measures. Furthermore, once a person has learned a second language, it becomes easier to learn even more languages.
Personal Benefits: A person’s language forms their identity. By becoming bilingual, students learn to value the cultures associated with both languages which lead to positive self-concepts, especially for speakers of the less dominant language.
Social Benefits: Bilingual students are able to nurture important relationships to family members and to their heritage community. They have the ability to interact with others who speak both languages, both in the United States and across the world.
Economic Benefits: The ability to read, write and speak in two or more languages is in great demand throughout the world and locally. From 2005 to 2017, Polk County, Florida saw its Hispanic population grow by 114.51%, more than doubling. This is a growing trend in the United States, as well. Being able to speak both English and Spanish provides a wider field of career opportunities.