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Why learn another language? 

Chances are, if youíre browsing this site, you donít need convincing that bilingualism is positive.  But what does research tell us about the benefits of bilingualism?  What are common concerns about being bilingual or raising bilingual children, and what resources are available?  Where can you go to learn more?  This section of addresses these questions.

Learning a second language at an early age:

  • Has a positive effect on intellectual growth and enriches and enhances a child's mental development
  • Leaves students with more flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language, and a better ear for listening
  • Improves a child's understanding of his/her native language
  • Gives a child the ability to communicate with people s/he would otherwise not have the chance to know
  • Opens the door to other cultures and helps a child understand and appreciate people from other countries
  • Gives a student a head start in language requirements for college
  • Increases job opportunities in many careers where knowing another language is a real asset.

Source: Center for Applied Linguistics


Recommended Podcast on Language Development from NPR

Are you interested in how language develops in babies and young children?  This excellent NPR interview from November 2011 with Jean Berko Gleason by Krista Tippett is one we highly recommend.  Fascinating!


Further Reading

While there are several books available that explore bilingualism, our top pick is The Bilingual Edge, by Kendall King and Alison Mackey (HarperCollins, 2007).  Learn more about the book and its authors (one of whom is a professor at the University of Minnesota!) at this website:

Bilingual Edge Book CoverThe Bilingual Edge
The book provides a wealth of information for parents interested in providing their children with the benefits of learning more than one language.


A Short Guide to Raising Children Bilingually
By Fred Genesee, McGill University

Benefits of Being Bilingual
A brief article from the Center for Applied Linguistics

The Bilingual Brain
From the Society for Neuroscience
September 2008



Bilingual, Bicultural Family Network:

Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)

Center for Applied Linguistics:

Multilingual Children Association:

Multilingual Matters:

International Childrenís Digital Library:

The ICDL Foundation's goal is to build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world.  Ultimately, the Foundation aspires to have every culture and language represented so that every child can know and appreciate the riches of children's literature from the world community.