You can read my 5 things I love about my expat life or the 5 reasons I'm glad my children are both Dutch and British in earlier posts.
This week here are my 5 reasons I'm glad that my young children are bilingual and can speak both English and Dutch, albeit the latter better than the former.
1. Aside from all the Benefits of Being Bilingual?: The positive elements of being raised bilingually are widely documented and study after study shows that the benefits are multiple. Speaking more than one language means more brain connections are made and in short bilingual speakers are a little smarter than mono linguists. Speaking multiple languages improves the ability to multitask, as the brain is switching between at least two different language structures. Memory improves. It has also been shown that being bilingual keeps dementia and Alzheimers longer at bay (that's what I told myself when I kept calling a banana an umbrella last week). I think those in themselves are pretty convincing reasons to be glad my sons are bilingual but if you don't believe me, how about from the mouth of a multilingual child, courtesy of Rita Rosenback?
|Photo Credit: Valeer Vandenbosch|
3. Native Speakers: My three sons are learning a second language without having to do it formally in school - they start earlier than their classmates and have a native speaker at home to talk to, as well as other family members in England. They will continue to learn English in a natural setting, instead of only in the formal setting of a classroom. It can only help them when I think in terms of accent, pronunciation and the amount of practice they get.
4. Communication: Seeing that my husband is Dutch and I am British it was always an important point for us that our children should be able to communicate effectively with both sides of the family. That meant that learning English was a must if they wanted to be able to talk to my family, who are absolutely not linguists, and certainly no Dutch speakers. Watching their English develop, and hence their ability to talk to my family in England, is priceless, considering most of their peers would, as yet, be unable to carry out a conversation in English. It certainly helps them build a relationship with my British relatives and friends.
|Photo Credit: http://grafdiss.blogspot.com/|
On a final note: I am also hoping that my three sons will play an important part in the education of the next generation of English speaking Dutch people. They'll be able to correct those typical Dutch mistakes that all children seem to be taught in school, and maybe, just maybe, there will be around 90 other children making their way in the world with the correct pronunciation of iron, a better understanding of the difference between England and Great Britain and knowing that the words teach and learn are not interchangeable.