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Why Raising a Bilingual Child Matters in a World Gone Mad

November 18, 2015

Why Raising a Bilingual Child Matters in a World Gone Mad

From the horror of Hiroshima to the terror of Paris, the world is mad. It’s hard to imagine that this madness can ever really be overcome, at least not until the human mind evolves into a higher state of health and wisdom.

But where does that leave us now, in these violent times? How should we live amid a world gone mad? And how can we help advance that necessary evolution of our species, even just a tiny step?

The fact is, despite the madness, there will always be soaring beauty and joy in this world. And as we work to stem the suffering around us, we should be relishing this other side of life each day. For us, the act of raising a bilingual child can be an important part of that beauty and joy, impacting our children’s lives, our lives, and the lives of many more, near and far, in a wealth of positive ways.

At the same time, there is early evidence that the brains of bilingual children develop somewhat differently, with a stronger tendency toward tolerance—and greater tolerance is what the human creature so desperately needs. Perhaps this bilingual impact on the brain itself, helping to form a more tolerant mind that becomes hard-wired into future generations, can also be the growing fruit of our efforts today.

This is why raising a bilingual child matters, even in a world gone mad. It matters for the present, right here at home, and it matters, in its own quiet way, for the larger evolution of our troubled kind as we continue to reach for a more peaceful future.

1 Mei November 19, 2015 at 6:46 am

Yes, it’s true. Bilingualism helps to foster open-mindedness so perhaps there will be less wars or such tragedies in the future as more people are bilingual or become bilingual. Thanks for this invaluable post, Adam.

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2 Adam November 19, 2015 at 7:47 am

Thank you for your comment, Mei. :mrgreen:

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3 Inés November 23, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Adam, thanks so much for this awesome post. This is real food for thought! This is definitely another reason of paramount importance to raise our children bilingual, so that we all can contribute to our intercultural community where people from different cultures and values can respect each other, especially with the new generations.

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4 Adam November 23, 2015 at 7:42 pm

I’m glad this post spoke to you, Inés. Thank you for adding your thoughts.

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5 Ellen November 24, 2015 at 1:41 am

I love this post. I have always believed that our intolerance has always been more about fear. We fear what we do not understand. We embrace what we know and understand. If we grow up with 2 cultures and languages, we assume that it is normal and we do not fear or reject it. We sow the fears of our past in the hearts of our children. They are born tolerant and loving and forgiving and caring. They accept our mistakes and differences with unfaltering love. We are the ones who need to learn to love and live like a little child. They are both the answer and the future. We need to stop polluting them. It only takes one person in a child’s life to poison their innocent love. We need to be like them. Even when someone is wrong or racist, we still need to show them love. That is the privilege of America, the Honor, the Duty we need to give in order to have true freedom and liberty. Hate is a prison, it is shackles we make and bind our own selves. Love really is the answer and the center of life. Being lingual in different languages allows us the privilege of sharing in what we all really want for ourselves. We all just want LOVE! Love is everything.

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6 Adam November 24, 2015 at 5:14 am

Thank you, Ellen. This is beautifully put, and I couldn’t agree more. But as simple as the answer is, at this stage of our evolution, it still seems so hard for human beings to put this into practice to the degree that it would finally bring a real end to violence and war. If our species can somehow survive its follies, and the human mind grows stronger in enlightenment and love, the farther future might indeed be different.

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7 Ginie March 26, 2016 at 3:27 am

Thank you Adam, this is so true. Children naturally have empathy and raising them bilingual only increases this emotion in them. We are building a brighter future raising them bicultural!!

If only all adults had remained children!!

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8 Adam March 26, 2016 at 5:18 am

Ginie, yes, I’m afraid that our deeper instinct for empathy can get buried beneath worldly concerns as we age. But if that instinct is fortified early on—and bilingual ability seems one way of achieving this—perhaps empathy remains closer to the surface and can continue to be readily accessed even as adults.

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