Type out “benefits of being bilingual” and you will come across many lists of reasons why being bilingual is great. It helps you get better jobs, make money, have a better brain, and get better grades. Those are all great reasons, for sure. But what about the joy of being a bilingual family? If our kids never make an extra penny from speaking Spanish, will it have been worth it?
I say yes. Pragmatic benefits aside, I still love having bilingual kids. Here’s why!
1. The wide-open futures. I love that my children’s future is open . The list of places they can easily travel to and navigate are doubled or tripled. I love traveling; if my kids do too, they’re more likely to speak the local language and have a rich experience. They’ll also have a better chance at learning additional languages.
2. The multi-generational connections. Whether through Skype or social media, or visits in person, our kids can communicate with our Peruvian family. Their Dad and I come from pretty different worlds, but our kids will have access to both.
3. The extra-adorable linguistic mistakes. As if little language stumbles aren’t cute enough on a 2-year-old (“Me no like that, Mommy”), it’s twice as cute in two languages.
4. The inside jokes.So much of our family humor come from being a bicultural and bilingual family. I love that our kids will get all the jokes!
5. The open mindsets they’ll have. The hardest part for most of my Spanish high school students is just getting out of their English mindsets, and realizing that every other language is not a translation of English. This will come to bilinguals naturally, and they’ll be able to enjoy future language classes. I love that they’ll more easily recognize that theirs is not the only way.
6. The joy of the language process. Watching your little children learn more than one language at once– and move easily between the two– is amazing. I’m so thankful I get to witness the process! In a few years, they acquire and internalize structures many older students take years to learn in school. It’s an impressive thing to watch.
7. The extra poetry and music. Books can be translated fairly well, but it’s hard to really appreciate poetry and songs apart from their original language. Our kids sing songs and say poems in both languages, and I love hearing it.
8. The family bond created. Though many of our friends are bilingual families, here in the U.S. it still feels special to share two languages. I love the extra connection and bond we all share from that.
9. The pride in their bilingualism. I will be proud of my children whether or not they choose to use Spanish as adults. I would be proud of them if they never spoke a word of Spanish. But I can’t deny the absolute swell of pride you feel watching your tiny one rattling away in a language some people have to study for years. It’s something to love, for sure.
10. We have more ways to say “I love you!” We tell each other “I love you” in English and Spanish, and draw from the huge list of terms of endearment in Spanish. It’s fun to have even more ways to show our affection by being bilingual.
Check out my Pinterest board for more inspiration and ideas in raising bilingual kids!