The benefits of teaching your child their language
In an interconnected world, speaking more than one language is becoming increasingly common. Approximately 80% of Africans speak a non-English language at home, and globally, as many as two-thirds of children are brought up bilingual.
Research suggests that the growing numbers of bilingual speakers may have an advantage that goes beyond communication: It turns out that being bilingual is also good for your brain.
” The idea that children exposed to two languages from birth become confused or that they fall behind monolingual children is a common misconception in countries like the USA. Here in Kenya we all know from experience that growing up multilingual is just as natural as growing up monolingual. Apparently African babies of bilingual mothers can distinguish between tribal languages even hours after birth. There is absolutely no evidence that bilingual acquisition leads to confusion, and there is no evidence that bilingual acquisition leads to delay. In fact,quite the contrary – speaking more than one language makes it easier to learn a second and a third. The brain is like a muscle so the more you use it, the better.
Tuning In To The Right Signal
In other words, no matter what language a person is speaking at the moment, both languages are active in the brain. Even if you are in a context that is utterly monolingual, where you think there is absolutely no reason to think about Swahili or Arabic or French, it is part of the activated network that’s going on in your brain. This is great for cognitive abilities. Also when your child speaks more than one language, including their mother-tongue, it connects them to their culture and history in a unique way that will open doors throughout their lives. Whatever language you speak is a passport into the lives of the community that speaks it. This is beneficial for travel, for business, and for general intercultural relationships.