California is a leading player in the world of bilingual education, with many schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco offering Spanish and English courses—but is a bilingual school the best choice for your family? As Latino parents, we may struggle with our children’s education. We want the best for them. We want them to do better than we did: We also want them to remember their culture. Is bilingual school the right way? There are a lot of pros and cons to bilingual schools and it is a big decision, one that should only be made after carefully considering the benefits and drawbacks of either choice.
Some parents may worry about the potential risks of preventing their children from fully assimilating into American culture by keeping them linguistically focused on Spanish; for others, the main drawback is financial—bilingual schools can come with a high tuition rate, and may require extra supplies or added commuting time. But many parents are finding a bilingual education an key to growing up with a strong cultural identity and a firm grasp on both English and Spanish. To help you with your decision, here are some benefits of bilingual schools to consider.
- Bilingual schools are an effective way to teach already-bilingual children. If your kids are speaking Spanish as the primary language at home, they may struggle with English in a monolingual learning environment. Bilingual schools have the advantage of allowing teachers to explain lessons in your child’s native tongue, as well as in English.
- Some bilingual schools start students in their native language, teaching a small amount of English, and then eventually teaching children more and more English. This allows children to learn at their own pace.
- Bilingual schools allow children to learn about their native culture and the American culture so that they can learn about both with pride. We want them to be proud to be Latina and American.
- In bilingual schools, children are kept with many other children with Latin American heritage, which can prevent them from feeling that they are in the minority—a situation that may be hard to avoid if they went to a public high school. Having many students from Latin American backgrounds can promote a multicultural, as well as multilingual, environment for your child to grow in.
- Being truly bilingual may help children get a job later in life, and a bilingual education is a strong way to cement your kids’ bilingual chops. More and more industries need people who can speak multiple languages to communicate with people all over the world.
For more on this topic, check out Closing the Word Gap: Raising Bilingual Children to Excel