Emerging Trend: Bilingual Babies
Bilingual Babies, A Sign Of The Times describes this trend and delves into the reasoning of parents as well as some of the benefits of bilingualism.
The first concern many people have with “youngun’s” learning foreign languages is: will they confuse English words with foreign words if they try to learn too young?
“[R]esearchers at Dartmouth College and other institutions have found no such disadvantage to being multilingual.” Research has further found that “..multilingual students do as well, if not better, on standardized tests in high school than their monolingual peers.” The idea behind this is that if you’re multilingual, words become more like codes for objects, something akin to the “x” in an algebraic equation, and it’s easier to apply this idea to other things – math or programming or of course learning other languages.
The article also reports that some Indian programmers think it is this fact – being familiar with more than one language, as people in India often are, or with your own complex language (like Chinese), that is responsible for Indian and Chinese adeptness in the IT field…C++ is just another language to be learned.
As for the motivation and methods of parents, one real estate asset manager who works in China wants his son to learn that language to become more of a global citizen: “”I think it’s important to show others in the world that we’re not so U.S.-centric…Everyone should speak English, but we’re going to make an attempt to speak their language as well. It helps culturally when you’re doing business or in social engagements, just to learn what other people are about.””
Some parents take their babies to immersion classes, some encourage their caregivers to speak their own (foreign) language with their children, “…like Raj and Mamta Purohit of New Jersey. In the long run, they believe their daughter Anaka’s exposure to native and grammatically correct Chinese is better for her than exposure to sometimes broken English. The Purohits see it as turning a possible liability into a bonus.”
It remains to be seen just how close the US will get to keeping up with the language learning going on in other countries, but it looks like it’s on the way.