The United States is a unique, diverse country with people from across the globe. The country is one made of immigrants from every corner of the world, bringing their own culture, traditions, and languages. So why is bilingual education in the United States lacking so much?
In a country so diverse, only seven percent of college student are enrolled in a foreign language course. Only one percent of adults are proficient in a language that they studied in high school. The answer is found in the low quality and low budget bilingual education system in the United States.
Why is bilingualism so important? One in five American jobs have ties to international trade. One and five people who may need to speak to people whose first language is not English. One in five people who, in the United States, most likely cannot effectively communicate with business partners or even employers.
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Bilingualism also helps students improve in other subjects by improving their critical thinking skills. In a two-way language immersion program in Illinois, researchers found that the native Spanish speakers that were learning English outperformed other native Spanish speakers in both math and reading. Fascinating enough, the native English speakers that were learning Spanish also outperformed their fellow native English speakers in both subjects as well.
I don’t just mean German and French, the United States needs to offer a wider variety of languages to its students. In fact, Javanese, a language many Americans have never even heard of, has more speakers than German. Lahnda, a language spoken in the Middle East, has more speakers than French. The United States should teach its students a more diverse selection of languages to make our country better.