Many parents have a dilemma on whether or not they will send their kids to bilingual schools. This is true especially for non-English speaking countries. Parents worry when it comes to this aspect since they are torn between letting their children learn a new language and retaining their native language and instill a sense of pride in speaking the language. Others are concerned with the ability of their children to cope up with the academic lessons if they are enrolled in bilingual schools. So, which of these two options is better?
The Cons and Risk Involved in Bilingual Education
One of the biggest issues involved in sending students to bilingual schools is the cost. Students in these schools are expected to take up a few more subjects and it means additional costs. Bilingual schools also hire more teachers and this cost will be reflected in the tuition fee of the students. The bigger risk involved in bilingual education is that learners might start abandoning their native language should they find the lingua franca more interesting. For tribal or indigenous learners, this could be a huge problem as they are facing the threat of language extinction. If kids fail to have a complete grasp of their native language, their language might die soon. It could also go the other way around. Learners won’t be too keen to learn a second language and will have a poor performance in the class compared to those who are fully committed.
The Pros of Bilingual Education
Though bilingual education seems risky, the truth is that it has a lot of advantages. Researches show that students of bilingual education institution are “brainier.” They become a lot smarter. Since the brain has more activities done due to learning 2 languages, then it becomes more active. It can even go up to old age. Bilingualism serves as insurance to the brain. It helps the brain stay sharp even after many years. In terms of being sociable, bilingual students are found to be more of extroverts compared to monolingual students. They seem more confident when placed in any social setting. They are also more tolerant to cultural differences and are more open-minded in learning from other people’s cultures. Their ability to correct grammatical and spelling mistakes when learning 2 languages also helps them become critical thinkers. Thus, when learning other courses, they can also be very critical.
What to Consider Before Choosing a School
There are certain factors that have to be considered first before deciding whether your kids should be sent to bilingual schools or not.
- Appropriate age. Obviously, there is no right or wrong age for kids to start learning a language. If they are exposed to a language at an earlier year, then it would be more advantageous for them. It takes 3-5 years for toddlers to learn a language, and if they start early, they will learn more.
- Curriculum. Whether you choose bilingual schools or not, the most important thing is to check the curriculum. Make sure that your child will maximize the opportunity of being enrolled to that school given the best curriculum.
- Preference of the Child. As always, the Law of Readiness applies here. If your child is not ready or willing to learn in a particular institution, then there is no need to force them. Allow them to choose where they want to learn and observe how they perform on their first few years.
Explain to your child well the consequences of each choice so you can both come up with a decision together.