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The thought of enrolling young children in a bilingual programme may be intimidating at first: could this cause learning or linguistic difficulties? Will they be able to actually master two languages?

These concerns are understandable; research has shown quite the opposite: in fact, the benefits of learning a second language are multiple.

5 main benefits of a bilingual programme:

1. Linguistic and cognitive development

Research has shown that the brain of bilingual children has many cognitive enhancements. Scans of bilingual adults’ brains, made during a recent study, have shown that people speaking only one language had a harder time to focus, whereas bilingual people appeared to be more efficient as they were able to easily ignore irrelevant information. For children, this translates as enhanced spelling and grammar skills, a faster understanding of the concept of numbers, a more creative thinking, and reading at a higher level.

2. Self-confident learners

Unlike teenagers and adults, young children are often very willing and eager to try out new words and phrases as they don’t have any concerns about getting things wrong and making embarrassing mistakes, which boosts their confidence and nips fear of public speaking in the bud. A study, based on 57 students and using the Janis-Field inadequacy scale, has proven that bilingual students show higher self-esteem than their unilingual peers.

3. An enhanced social life

Being able to express themselves in more than one language allows children to better socialise and meet new friends. Further to that, they learn about a new culture, traditions and arts, expanding and opening their minds. 

4. Mastering two languages from the start

Introducing a second language as soon as kindergarten allows children to start learning and practicing at the same time as their mother tongue. As such, since both languages are on the same level, children won’t tend to search for a comparable word in their first language, pushing them to learn the meaning of a word in its own context. Another advantage of starting a second language with no first language interference is the native accent: indeed, young students tend to mimic their teachers’ pronunciation. 

5. Starting their career off on the right foot

In the world of today, competition is getting tougher amongst young graduates on the job market. However, bilingualism is a highly sought-after quality. Applicants who master more than one language have an upper hand on their competitors, especially in the trending sectors of tourism, communications and marketing, banking, and law. Another benefit is the pay: it has been shown that bilingual employees are likely to be paid up to 20 percent per hour more than the position’s base rate. 

“A different language is a different vision of life” - Federico Fellini

Bilingual People Are Like Brain 'Bodybuilders'. Livescience.com. Retrieved 4 March 2019.

Should I earn more for being bilingual?. Salary.com. Retrieved 4 March 2019.

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