Tale of Two Languages

America is the great melting pot, where many immigrants made their way to Ellis Island to escape poverty, religious persecution or political oppression to create their own opportunities. Over the years, many different cultures and ethnicities have mixed to give rise to multicultural and/or multi-ethnic offspring. As these children begin to develop, parents are sometimes confused about which language or languages their child should actually speak. At one point in time, many immigrants refused to teach their children their native language so that they could better assimilate in the United States. Although this is no longer the case, some parents continue to wonder whether they should the parents focus on English so that child will have mastery of the language by the time they get to kindergarten, or should they instead focus on the second language so that the child will have a good sense of their culture?

While it may seem easier to just speak in English with your child, you should consider the ultimate benefits to exposing your child to the second language:

1) Enhances the child’s ability to communicate

2) Benefits him/her in other parts of the world

3) Expands the child’s cultural horizons

4) Stimulates the development of self-control

5) Increases the capacity for interpretation and storytelling

There are a number of other suggested academic, social, and health benefits that have yet to be proven but which may be linked to the mastery of two or more languages. So why not consider giving your child a bountiful gift and offer him or her the opportunity to learn another language and hold onto a vital piece of his or her cultural identity for life!

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