Spanish Immersion » Benefits of being bilingual

Benefits of being bilingual

Many Hollywood celebs know the advantages of being bilingual, especially Latino stars who embrace their Hispanic heritage and proudly speak their native Spanish language.

Salma Hayek, Sofia Vergara, Shakira, Ricky Martin, Penelope Cruz, William Levy, Antonio Banderas, Daisy Fuentes, Thalia and Marc Anthony are some of the approximately 60 mainstream celebs that remain true to their Latino roots by speaking Spanish, according to Latina Magazine.

Are they just following a hot trend? Is it fashionable to be bilingual and speak Spanish? Maybe it is, but this is not the reason why it is good to be bilingual.

The top three spoken languages in the world are: Mandarin Chinese  with 882 million speakers; Spanish with 325 million speakers; and English with between 312-380 million speakers. Being bilingual in English and Spanish opens a world of opportunities. For instance, imagine all the countries you can visit in Latin America, the Caribbean and let’s not forget Spain, where you’ll be able to communicate with the locals. It makes traveling more fun.

Let’s take a look are all the benefits of being bilingual.

Advantages to being bilingual

First of all, bilingualism promotes overall cognitive development because a bilingual individual encounters the world from two different language perspectives, which prevents them from having a limited experience. Plus, this extended way of thinking facilitates the approach to cognitive problems and higher levels of abstract thinking.

This is a great “academic” explanation, but here are the practical reasons you should be bilingual:

Being bilingual in English and Spanish can open doors for you in the workforce.
  • It gives you access to two cultures and makes you more tolerant and open to others. By being able to communicate in two languages, you are free to learn about diverse cultures, traditions and social behaviors as well as be a part of them. People who speak two languages have two windows open to the world to enrich their life.
  • Being bilingual makes it is easier to travel, find a job and belong to this new global world inside and outside of the U.S.
  • Studies have shown that bilingual people have better task switching capacities because of their acquired ability to inhibit one language while using another. In other words, speaking two languages forces your brain to recognize two different languages systems. So, basically, you become smarter. Did you know that people who speak more than one language tend to make fewer errors in their driving? A side benefit, but a benefit nonetheless!
  • According to, being bilingual “promotes mental agility and helps delay neurological disorders like dementia and Alzheimer Disease.” According to some studies, monolingual adults tend to show the first signs of dementia at the average age of 71. This is in contrast to bilingual individuals who show their first symptoms around 76 years old.
  • You will find it much easier to learn a third language when you are bilingual. Plus, your English will be enhanced as you are more aware of language structures, grammar, literacy and language skills.
  • Bilingual adults and children seem to have social and emotional benefits like being able to show better self-control and internalize negative states like anxiety, aggression, anger, loneliness or low self-esteem less frequently. They have greater tolerance and less racism. It seems likely that bilinguals would be more tolerant of differences and more open to diversity.
  • Globalization makes bilingual individuals more valuable in their future search for work. Bilinguals may also be bridge-builders between different language communities, so they are essential for personal and professional networking.  Studies show that bilinguals earn more money on average in the United States. As companies become more international, there is a greater need for employees who are fluent in more than one language.
  • According to a study, bilinguals tend to make better rational and financial decisions.

To sum it up, bilingual individuals have better social skills, more job opportunities and an edge on delaying Alzheimer’s disease. 

by Veronique de Miguel, Voxxi


5 Reasons to Love Dual Language Immersion Programs

Kids have begun speaking in two tongues. 

Over the past 15 years, traditional bilingual education programs have fallen out of favor in the United States. Criticized for isolating English-language learners (ELLs) in remedial classrooms with watered down instruction, states like California, Arizona and Massachusetts scrapped bilingual programs in favor of English language immersion.

But bilingual education is receiving a makeover. With a new name, fresh face and totally different attitude, increasing numbers of American families are embracing dual language immersion.

"Bilingual education has basically become a dirty word, but dual-language programs seem to have this cachet that people are glomming onto," Julie Sugarman of the Center for Applied Linguistics tells the L.A. Times. "They are successful for English-language learners. And white, middle-class parents want these programs to give their children an edge in the increasingly globalized world."

Sugarman estimates that dual language immersion programs have multiplied in the past few years from a few hundred to more than 1,000. States leading the way include California, Texas, New Mexico, New York, Washington and Illinois.

Here are five reasons why dual language immersion programs are becoming so popular:

1. BILINGUALISM FOR ALL: In contrast to the remedial bilingual education model, which aims to bring ELLs up to speed in English so they can be mainstreamed, dual language immersion is an enrichment model that challenges all students to become fluent in two languages. Classes are often taught by two teachers who each speak exclusively in one language. There is no translation or repeated lessons. Native English speakers and ELLs learn a second language together with no stigma attached.

2. CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP: The recent move away from traditional bilingual education toward English language immersion was meant to help ELLs catch up with English speaking peers. Instead, standardized test scores from 2003 to 2010 show a widening achievement gap. Numerous studies demonstrate that ELLs become more fluent in English when they learn to read in their primary language.

In 2004, Virginia P. Collier and Wayne P. Thomas from George Mason University published an 18-year longitudinal study of dual language programs in 23 school districts and 15 states. They found that dual language immersion fully closes the achievement gap between ELLs and native speakers of English.

3. POSITIVE SCHOOL CULTURE: Collier and Thomas discovered that the effectiveness of dual language education extends beyond academic outcomes. The entire school community benefits when multiple languages and cultural heritages are validated and respected. Friendships bridge class and language barriers. Teachers report higher levels of job satisfaction. Parents from both language groups participate more actively in schools.

4. BRAIN BENEFITS: Cognitive neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok has studied bilingualism for almost 40 years. She recently told the New York Times that people who regularly use two languages tend to perform better on executive function tasks and maintain better cognitive functioning with age. Bilingualism is also associated with a five to six year delay in the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms after diagnosis.

5. HAPPY KIDS: Six-year-old Kyra is a first grader who loves her dual language Spanish-English program. "It's really fun because your brain gets to work with two different languages, and your tongue gets to do two different sounds,” she told the L.A. Times.

"This is an amazing program and people should consider putting their children in it," said sixth grader Isaiah Coyotl, the son of Mexican immigrants. "It could help a lot of boys and girls get better jobs, speak two languages and help people in need."

By Melanie Smollin, Education Editor,