Being Bilingual

Guest Bloggers  · 

Being Bilingual

By Corinne Yoder

¿Qué es lo mejor de ser bilingüe? What’s the best part about being bilingual? Well for starters, you wouldn’t need to translate that question; it would have come naturally to you! Being bilingual means opening up your world to lots of new opportunities. 

Travelling, job positions, meeting people… all of these things become more possible just from knowing a second language. These are just some of the most obvious advantages. Beneath the surface, while you’re switching from one language to another, your brain learns to do a beautiful dance, carefully taking aspects of one, twirling around the accent of another and all the while writing a beautiful melody of sounds to play with.

Becoming bilingual isn’t always an easy process. My mom tried to teach me French when I was a little girl, she started when I was already 7 or 8 and I would just get annoyed with her. Unfortunately for both of us, she quickly gave up. Just a few years later, I took my first trip out of the US to visit France with her. My ears would get all wrapped up in the sounds of the French language and my mouth started imitating them, even though I was speaking in English! I knew after that trip that I wanted to learn French and study languages in general.

Corinne making friends in CataloniaYears later I find myself, an American, living in Barcelona, surrounded by Spanish and Catalan. My French is still not nearly the level I would like it would be, but I’ve really concentrated on improving and perfecting my Spanish over the past few years. The journey to get to fluency was far from easy, but it was completely worth it. Bilingualism has allowed me to make so many more friends, both here and in the US, which I would have never been able to have as just an English speaker. I’ve also had better opportunities in terms of work and traveling, thanks to being fluent in more than one language.

Corinne in AndorraWhat’s my best recommendation for becoming bilingual? Start encouraging your little ones at a young age. Just about any language study will show that this is the best way to become fluent in more than one language. Little kids have more muscle and brain elasticity, meaning they can both make the actual sounds and remember them much better than an adult. Furthermore, children aren’t so worried about making mistakes learning a second language. It should be fun, not a chore. I think we often forget about that as adults, trying to learn anything for that matter.! Learning is about expanding your possibilities, better understanding and having a bit of fun. Let’s make sure that children understand that and that they maximise their language abilities.

I would suggest bilingual books and games that help relate their native language to the language that they are learning. The transition will be easier and more fun for them. Bit by bit, you can make the change completely to another language!

Thank you to Corinne for sharing her experiences, check out the Boolino library for the One Third Stories collection to encourage little linguists to learn a language.

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Keywords in this post: languages, confidence, travel, culture

Corinne Yoder  ·  Fiction Express

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