There's More Than One Route to Multilingualism

The verdict is in! Our daughter was accepted into the private dual language school I wrote about last month. The question now remains whether or not she will attend.

We decided to start the lengthy application process because we wanted to have options. In fact, she remains on several rotating waiting lists at several daycare centers around town because one never knows. Before making our decision, there is a still a reflective process my husband and I need to go through. First and foremost, I am going to observe the potential classrooms our daughter could be placed in next year. Secondly, and this is the most difficult, we have to consider the long-term benefits and disadvantages of committing to, not just a definite high quality education, but to the hefty price tag it comes with.

I sincerely doubt that most of the SpanglishBaby readers need a list of the advantages of a dual language education, therefore I will expand in greater detail the reasons we are contemplating sending our daughter to a prestigious dual language school.

If we enroll our daughter, we are essentially committing to an education that will span 15 years! To avoid getting into financial details, I’ll just explain that over the course of those years (and we have another baby on the way) we could invest that same amount of money into something else, like a house.

We have been contemplating the ways we could supplement our children’s education if we decide to find alternative dual language programs in our community. For instance, we could take family trips abroad during the summer or winter breaks, and enroll our children in Spanish and French language programs. In other words, there is more than one route to become multilingual.

That being said, there is still the simple fact that research is pointing towards the ways varying levels of proficiency in multiple languages can also mean varying levels of cognitive benefits. Doesn’t every parent want to achieve the most optimal level of multilingualism for their children, which translates to the most optimal level of cognitive benefits? I think so!

So here we are at a crossroads. I keep reminding myself that I am not the average parent in pursuit of a multilingual life for my daughter. I am, after all, pursuing a doctorate in bilingual education, and surely I can find the multiple routes to make sure my daughter reaches an optimal level of multilingualism. I also recognize how the stats for second and third generation heritage speakers of minorities are grim, if not linguistically fatal. So where do we go from here?

This is a question I pose to SpanglishBaby readers. I sincerely want my daughter to speak, read and write in two or more languages at nearly the same proficiency. What would you do?

{Photo by Ivy Dawned}

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