Saturday, July 01, 2006

Welcome to Bilingual Talk

Bilingual Talk is a place for teachers, students, parents and researches to work together to confront some of the greatest challenges facing bilingual education and bilingual living in the United States and beyond. Bilingual Talk values bilingualism and diversity. It is clear that all children deserve the opportunity to learn to speak more than one language. The advantages to being bilingual are extensive. Research has shown that bilingual students benefit from enhanced cognitive brain functions, cognitive flexibility, problem solving skills, academic achievement, and creativity. In addition, bilingual children also gain increased awareness of cross-cultural issues, a better understanding of their native language and greater job opportunities.

Research has also shown that true bilingualism is developed in childhood before the onset of adolescence when our language learning capacity begins to slow down. Children's brains are wired for learning languages and they can recall words after hearing them just a few times. Children are less inhibited from trying out new words and are less frustrated when they hear words they don't understand. The majority of schools in the United States do not begin to offer a second language until Middle School. This is precisely when the task of learning a new language has already become more difficult. On the other hand, young children have been shown to learn three, four and even five languages simultaneously. They are basically little language learning machines.

Given the extensive advantages of being bilingual and what we know about the optimal time to become so, why are there so few bilingual programs and bilingual schools in the United States? Why aren't more parents demanding that their children be given the opportunity to benefit from a bilingual education? What is really stopping us from offering this tremendous advantage to more children in our country?

Bilingual Talk hopes that you will join us in our search to find the answers to these and other questions. We hope this site will be a place to discuss the most important issues on bilingualism; education, politics, research and living. We invite you to post your concerns and questions and do hereby open this forum for all.

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