In today's interconnected world, learning to connect and communicate with people of different cultural backgrounds effectively is immensely important. The ability to speak multiple languages is essential to thriving in the global economy, and a bilingual approach to education has proven tremendously beneficial to students.
From increased cognitive function to a diverse array of economic opportunities, the advantages of bilingual education are undeniable. Teachers with a strong understanding of multicultural learning environments are in high demand, which makes the Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Bilingual Education online program at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) an exciting opportunity for individuals who want to lead their schools' efforts in this area.
This fully online program allows working teachers to "explore strategies for providing developmentally appropriate emergent and holistic instruction in order to promote equity and academic excellence for all learners within the bilingual classroom."
Why Is Bilingual Education so Important?
As communities worldwide become more interconnected, the ability to speak multiple languages takes on increased importance. Bilingualism is increasingly essential to surviving and succeeding in an integrated global economy. Bilingual job applicants are more attractive to hiring managers, and employers are less inclined to lay off workers who speak multiple languages. The value of an individual who can effectively communicate and collaborate across cultures is at an all-time high. This means the need for skilled teachers who can implement bilingual education in the school is also steadily rising.
What Are the Advantages to Bilingualism?
There is a wealth of advantages, both mental and professional, to implementing bilingual education in schools. Numerous studies suggest that "fostering bilingualism, starting at the youngest ages, can have long-lasting and profound benefits." Here are four of the most common and exciting advantages to implementing bilingual education.
- Increased cognitive function
The cognitive benefits associated with bilingual education are nothing short of astounding. From higher test scores to surprising health benefits, the cognitive effects alone are enough to cement bilingualism as a permanent staple of the public school system. The following are just a few of the cognitive advantages to bilingual education:
- Increased ability to solve problems, think creatively and recognize patterns
- Improved academic performance
- Enhanced linguistic awareness and understanding of an individual's native language
- Increased ability to apply concepts to novel situations
- Delayed development, or increased resistance to, dementia
- Improved focus and decision-making
- Improved cultural and social skills
Exposure to two languages encourages students to develop an appreciation for the differences in cultures. Bilingualism is more than just the ability to speak more than one language — it's a multicultural approach to interpersonal interactions that can dramatically improve an individual's social skills.
Bilingual education helps students effectively connect with people of different cultures and backgrounds, increasing their ability to empathize with others and promoting emotional intelligence. The power of effectively speaking multiple languages allows individuals from different cultures to interact on various levels — from music to literature to folk stories. Essentially, it helps young people overcome the isolation associated with feeling like they can only exist within one geographic location or culture.
- Economic advantages in the new global economy
No shortage of the economic and professional advantages accompany being able to conduct business in multiple languages efficiently. Bilingual college graduates are in high demand, and employees who can speak multiple languages frequently ascend to higher levels of the corporate structure than their monolingual colleagues. Between 2010 and 2015, demand for bilingual employees rose more than 150%. Some of the corporate benefits of hiring bilingual employees include:
- Improved ability to conduct business in other countries
- Enhanced ability to engage suppliers or contractors from specific language backgrounds
- Increased expansion of existing business conducted in other countries.
Because the unique skill set associated with bilingualism is so advantageous to corporations, students exposed to bilingual education will have a wide array of professional opportunities available to them.
- Improved memory and recall abilities
Studies suggest that bilingualism is associated with improved memory. One report notes that "the main reason suggested for bilinguals' advantage is their need to process and manage the two languages, which are simultaneously activated whenever one of the languages is used." Processing multiple languages simultaneously prompts the following memory-boosting physical changes to the human brain:
- Improved overall brain function and health
- Increased gray matter volume and density
- Improved executive function
- Strengthened connections between neurons
The Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Bilingual Education online program at TAMIU is an exceptional program for teachers dedicated to preparing their students for success in the modern global community. This program is accredited by the Texas State Board for Educator Certification and can be completed in as few as 12 months.
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