Immigrant Children Should Be Monolingual or Bilingual?

by Daisuke Matsumoto

Which do you think is better bilingual or monolingual? Of course, in the U.S. people of English-Only have objection to bilingualism because they are afraid that the primacy of English would become weaker than before. In fact, since the late 1990s, educational policy in the U.S. schools has been moving away from bilingualism, but English-only disregard for benefits of bilingualism (Dyrness 2012).

The benefits of bilingualism for immigrant children are even greater than the benefits of only speaking mother tongue or English-Only. Bilingualism brings up family cohesion and gains self-esteem and stronger cultural identity. Moreover, these days Barack Obama recommended bilingual educations (Kraus 2012). To do so, there will appear a problem how to teach immigrant children. For example, there are many immersion schools, where children are able to gain bilingual by the end of elementary school. If both you and your wife or husband is Japanese, and immigrant to the United States, you should have the children go to immersion school. Then the children can learn both English and Japanese in English. This school has a good point to study main subjects like math or science in English available in the children’s future. In addition, you’d much better have them commit Japanese school on every Saturday. Of course, things, you know, don’t always go according to plan, but, the next suggestions will make you sure that the children will get to become bilingual by the age of 12 years old. There are 11 schools of Japanese immersion program in the United States.

(Miwa 2006)

These school teachers said that we found our students are more likely to acquire both Japanese and English language with increasing cross-cultural understanding, and even develop more self-esteem through this program (Miwa 2006).

Bilingualism, you know, keep Alzheimer’s or dementia disease from aggravating. In addition to the famous effect, some scientists say that bilingualism boosts brain power. According to the study from the U.S. Northwestern University, they monitored 48 healthy students included 23 bilingual students to different sounds―how to tell the speaker’s voice from chatter’s voice. Usually monolingual persons like me would feel unpleasant, and could hardly sound the speaker’s voice in the room of noisy chatter. However, these bilingual students were much better to process only speaker’s sounds. The study also proves by using scalp electrodes to trace the pattern of brainwaves that the bilingual’s brainstem responses work higher. Through this research, you can say that the benefits of bilingualism are very powerful.

Orange zone is the brainstem (Kraus 2012)


Dyrness, Andrea. 2012. “English-Only Teaching Ignores Bilingual Benefits” The Hart Courant. May, 23

Miwa, Mitsuko. 2006. “Immersion Education in the USA―A study on the prospect of bilingual education” PDF.

Kraus, Nina. 2012. “Being bilingual ‘boosts brain power” BBC. May, 1

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