Scientists teach that there are significant benefits of raising a child to speak more than one language; multiple physiological studies have found, for example, that speaking multiple languages physically changes one’s brain in ways that improve both cognitive processes and memory. Furthermore, there seems to be evidence that there are physical and educational advantages to beginning a bilingual experience as early as possible during one’s lifetime.
In the United States, however, many children are not exposed to foreign languages until middle school or high school – producing an educational vacuum, and creating the need and opportunity for parents to introduce a second language to their kids at home.
Kelsey Kloss – whom I know from her day job as an editor at Reader’s Digest, Elle, and Prevention magazines – recently sent me a copy of her new, bilingual, children’s book, Malty the Blue Tiger (Marita la tigresita azul). Written in both English and Spanish, the illustrated book, aimed at young children, tells a story that teaches the importance of celebrating both one’s unique, individual characteristics, as well as the diversity of others – all while exposing children to two languages.
I believe that even in our era of increasingly-accurate automated translation tools, America would benefit from focusing more attention on introducing foreign languages to our children at a young age – as the cognitive benefits of doing so extend way beyond language skills.
I was happy to give Malty the Blue Tiger to my youngest daughter – who is learning both English and Spanish.
Thank you, Kelsey.