Pin It
Saturday, February 19th, 2011

The Economics of Bilingualism

By

Not everyone has the same reasons for raising bilingual children. For some, it is necessity: a language particular to the country you’re in, your family language, your parent’s language. For my family, our kids learning Arabic is a necessity. Arabic is their father’s native tongue and the language half their relatives speak. Not teaching them would be unthinkable.

For others, bilingualism, while not a necessity, provides advantages and opportunities. In Berkeley, California, I’ve met many monolingual parents who don’t have a necessity for their children to be bilingual but a desire, as they recognize the benefits of bilingualism. The schools in the Berkeley area reflect this, as well as the diversity of the population–there are Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Persian, French and German immersion schools, and probably others I am forgetting. My family also fits into this category when it comes to our kids learning a proposed third language. Although I love Spanish, and it’s the most practical second language in the U.S., we gravitate towards French for their third language. French was the language my husband and I originally communicated in when we met, we both speak it so could easily facilitate the kids learning it, whereas only I speak Spanish. French is also the second language in Morocco and my kids are half Moroccan.

 

My kids are also picking up some Tibetan from their daycare providers. We have encouraged the teachers to speak only Tibetan to them and they responded with utter surprise as I don’t think many of the other parents have expressed this desire. We see any language learned as beneficial, even more obscure ones. All languages open doors and present unseen opportunities, not just the widely spoken ones. When my kids reach an age to express their opinions beyond food, toys and clothing choices and tell me they are passionate about learning Quechua or Tibetan, and not French as we chose for them, I would encourage them wholeheartedly.

 

Take a look at this chart below on the top economies in 2015 and the predictions for 2050. Does this influence at all what languages you will encourage your kids to learn? What influences your decision on their language acquisition? Leave a comment and let me know–I’d love to hear from you.

 

Top Economies of the Future Based on Projected Gross Domestic Product

 

© 2011 – 2013, Stephanie Meade. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


Is Raising Bilingual Children Worth the Costs?

Fancy schools, international vacations, foreign language books, DVDs and tutors add up fast

Why African Toddlers Don't Have Tantrums

The secret of why African babies don't meltdown like Western ones.

Language Resource Library for Raising Bilingual Kids

The most comprehensive list of language learning resources

Overheard on the Beijing Subway When People Don't Think I Speak Mandarin

The awesome stuff I overhear like what these two Chinese women think of foreigners.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Stephanie is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of InCultureParent. She has two Moroccan-American daughters (ages 5 and 6), whom she is raising, together with her husband, bilingual in Arabic and English at home, while also introducing Spanish. After many moves worldwide, she currently lives in Berkeley, California.

Leave us a comment!









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
[…] Peru, 97 percent of newborns are breastfed, according to LLLI. In Culture Parent reported that 69 percent of Peruvian children are breastfed exclusively from birth to five months, and ou...
From Breastfeeding Around the World
Hi I was googling Islamic beliefs when I came across your post. We are American and our neighbors are from Pakistan I think. Our kids love playing together but their dad doesn't allow the kids to co...
From An Islamic Perspective on Child-Rearing and Discipline
Mother’s Day is the most perfect and accurate Occasion to express your Love and Gratitude towards Mothe...
From Holi Craft: Straw Painting
[…] Muslims fast for 30 days every year for Ramadan, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan this year is happening during most of the month […...
From Ramadan: June 28-July 28
[…] Raising a Little Buddha – Part 1, InCulture Parent — Post by a Buddhist Minister about raising an enlightened child.  It starts with intimacy, communication, and community. [R...
From How to Raise an Enlightened Child — Part I
[…] Breastfeeding in Jordan, InCulture Parent — Not as restrictive as one might think. […...
From Breastfeeding in Jordan
[…] Best and Worst Countries to be a Mother, InCulture Parent – “The 2010 Mothers’ Index rates 160 countries (43 developed nations and 117 in the developing world) in terms of th...
From Best and Worst Countries to be a Mother
[…] Why Americans Value Independent and Competitive Kids, InCultureParent — Interesting look at how our values impact our interactions with our children (babies in particular). […...
From Why Americans Value Independent and Competitive Kids
[…] Multiple Fathers and Healthier Children in the Amazon, InCulture Parent — a fascinating look at cultures in the Amazon where pregnant women have sex with more than one man as a means...
From Multiple Fathers and Healthier Children in the Amazon

More from Our Bloggers