Raising a bilingual child

This generation of K-12 students is growing up in a society that is increasingly bilingual. While foreign language requirements have long been a core requirement for high school graduation, second language classes at an earlier age would improve overall fluency for most students. It’s time to introduce second-language concepts to the youngest of K-12 students, and here are just a few of the reasons why:

1. Opportunity.

Knowing a second language can open up the world to you; not only for work, but for friendship and even love. Life is about connecting with people and knowing another language sure does help with that.

2. Creativity.

Once upon a time people thought bilingual kids were disadvantaged. You’d ask them to name all words starting with “p” in one language and they’d be slower than monolingual kids in responding. Flip the script and tell them to name all words with “p” in any which language and they went to town spouting out words left and right. This ability to unlock certain parts of the brain helps to creativity from inner corners of the brain that might otherwise go filled with cobwebs.

3. Expression.

Sometimes there’s just no other way to say what you want to say other than in a specific language. Saying “pig dog” in English sounds just ridiculous but if you yell “porco cane” in Italian it takes on a whole different meaning.

4. Flexibility.

It’s difficult to be perfectly fluent in two languages. Usually people are more dominant in one or the other. This means often you have to improvise or find a work around to get your point across. These are skills that are very handy for life in general. Starting at a young age will give your child the opportunity to perfect the language as a bilingual kid.

5. Multiculturalism.

Even if you’re not ethnically mixed, knowing another language gives you access to other cultures and perspectives through books, TV, film and travel. Being multicultural has a whole rack of benefits including being able to relate that much better to Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” music video.

6. Growth.

When you do and see things differently it’s impossible not to grow as a person. We never stop learning even in our native language. Another language doesn’t multiply your ability to grow as a person, it increases it exponentially, especially as a bilingual kid.

7. Travel.

Of course this is subjective on where you want to travel and what languages you learn. Knowing common languages like Mandarin, English, French or Spanish makes it easier to get around.

8. Music.

Music is life. It’s emotion. It’s expression. The ability to enjoy music in various languages AND understand what in the world they’re saying is a gift, really.


DREAM, one of the Midwest’s well-known youth mentoring organizations, provides life-changing and life-enriching experiences to at-risk youth through mentoring and after-school programs in Omaha, Nebraska, and Springfield, Missouri. Their proven approach puts children in a comfortable setting where they’re encouraged to discuss openly, learn, and grow as individuals. Are you interested in getting involved with DREAM? Contact us today.