The Language Magazine, a site dedicated to providing “cutting-edge information for language learners, educators, and professionals around the world,” recently published an article detailing the vast benefits of bilingual education. The writer of this article is none other than Dr. Fabrice Jaumont, a well-known advocate of bilingual education and author of The Bilingual Revolution: The Future of Education is in Two Languages.
As the article describes, American education has veered from the mastery of monolingualism to “bilingualism, language enrichment, and the preservation of heritages and cultures.” However, according to the article, three key changes in perspective have arisen with this new focus on bilingual education:
“First, to espouse the cultures specific to families and linguistic communities and to promote this cultural heritage as an important part of the mosaic of our society; second, to help facilitate reconciliation between parents and schools and encourage a fruitful dialogue between parents, school administrators, and education professionals; and third, to promote a social, economic, and cultural environment that is respectful of all and helps to bridge the gulfs that divide us today.”
These new approaches to bilingual education in the United States foster a community of growth instead of stunting the differences between us, whether that be cultural or linguistic differences. The article recognizes that bilingual education can provide a variety of opportunity, including socioeconomic mobility, cognitive development, sustainment of heritage, but all ultimately coalesce into one goal: “to create a multilingual society with greater access to languages and cultures.”
To Dr. Jaumont, bilingual education or multilingual education should be accessible to everyone, “in public schools across the country from preschool to college—our children’s chances of success [will] improve, our schools flourish, and our communities thrive.” And though educators are at the forefront of this revolutionary opportunity, parents are “at the center of change,” as parents have power to influence change in our schools.
These parents, the ones who influence change in their local monolingual educational institutions, “will not just be advocates of bilingual education but true pioneers willing to spur positive change in their societies and re-enchant the public with public schools, all while promoting an active community life (socially, economically, culturally) and a mutual understanding and respect for minority groups and people of varying sociolinguistic and economic backgrounds.”
Dr. Jaumont concludes his invigorating article with a quick reflection on the opportunities bilingualism supplies for everyone (“cognitive enhancement, critical thinking, and sensitivity toward other people and cultures”), but he emphasizes the benefits bilingualism could have for the United States. He suggests the bilingual education, a movement spearheaded by interested parents and educators, is a “universal good” that has the ability to “constructively change a child, a school, a community, and even a country.”
-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Student Researcher