A new batch of people is graduating from colleges and universities in this month. Next month we will also see plenty of high school graduations and we are happy to report that many Latino students at all levels are achieving this goal. Many of the Latinos are bilingual or pretty close to being bilingual. If parents have taken the trouble to instill in them their native language, they will now have an advantage over many others who are only monolingual.
According to the latest studies, being able to manage two languages proves that an individual has greater capacity to function in diverse settings and make faster decisions.
Scientists have been presenting data showing that bilingualism makes you smarter and it has a profound effect in your brain, to an extent that people in danger of having dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are encouraged to learn a new language.
Due to ignorance and because people felt threatened by not knowing what others were saying, many children were told not to use their native languages. This was a situation that affected Native Americans in particular and many of the foreign children in the US.
Instead of encouraging children to learn two or more languages, they were told that the language from the main culture was the best.
Many things do not translate from one language to another, which is the case with cultural and even spiritual aspects that are inherent to a given people. You can try to convey the meaning, but explaining a ritual or a tradition is very difficult.
Also, what kind of mental connection takes place when talking to someone in one language, you can also switch immediately to the other language with ease. Anyone who has learned a new language knows that at the beginning it is hard. A lot of people in the United States have not been through that enriching experience.
It is very sad when the parents themselves deny the children the knowledge of their own language, also cutting all ties to their culture and origin. Later in life those same children will have to pay in order to acquire a language that was their own to begin with.
Knowing two languages expands the brain and possibilities in such a way that bilingual people continue to acquire other languages, thus expanding their mind and having the possibility to communicate with many more in the world.
I remember a taxi driver in Florida in 1989 who was very upset because his children, born in US, could not find a job because only bilingual people were been accepted. He was angry at foreigners! He probably thought that everyone should dumb down in order to be at the same level! Being bilingual is not a handicap; on the contrary is an asset and a passport to opportunities.
Congratulations new Latino graduates! We are very proud of you and we know that now you have a double possibility to triumph in life!
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