Growing Up Bilingual | The Citizen Culture

Growing up Bilingual

I feel lucky to have grown up bilingual. I have my mother to thank for that, who insisted I learned a foreign language. I also attribute my passion for travel to my maternal grandfather. He was a top executive at Braniff International Airlines in Argentina and we were fortunate enough to travel for free when we were kids thanks to him. I also look up to my grandmother. She was a world explorer and wanderer herself; she took me and my brother everywhere on her trips.

What my mother didn’t know – and maybe regretted later – was that by insisting on a bilingual education, she was encouraging her daughter to leave her home country.

And that’s exactly what I did. With mastery of the English language, which I learned early in preschool in Argentina, I left home as soon as I became of age. Driving by the domestic airport (“Aeroparque”) as a kid meant freedom. It was a gateway for exotic adventures across distant lands. I always knew I’d be a perfect adventure-goer as I possessed a critical skill: bilingualism.

Here’s why I think everyone would benefit from growing up bilingual:

  • Learning another language will open doors to new cultures and ideas, as it did for me. By learning a foreign language, you also end up loving the culture and shapes the way you think.
  • Once you master the first foreign language, learning other languages become easier. I picked up Portuguese in a matter of weeks while living in Brazil. Somehow my brain was already wired for learning.
  • There is nothing more rewarding than being able to help and translate for someone who doesn’t speak the language. Serving as a bridge between two different cultures helps people understand one other better to reach a common ground. Being able to switch from one language to another is also personally fulfilling.
  • Bilingual children are more adaptable and flexible. Since I moved from California to Miami last year, I noticed that my children are finally grasping Spanish and embracing the Latin culture. This is all thanks to people here in Southern Florida who are bilingual and bi-cultural by nature. My kids’ personalities have changed for the better; they are now resourceful, open-minded to travel and hopefully be citizens of the world.
  • Bilingualism opens many doors: from job prospects, to friendships and relationships. Being bilingual will offer you twice as many options and possibilities. You’ll never be bored! Life will be more colorful, interesting and full.

 

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