Arts, Culture & Media

More U.S. kids growing up bilingual

This couple live in Phoenix with their two kids. The wife is American and French and the couple plans to raise their kids bilingually, with English and French. But the husband says it actually may be more important for his kids to learn Chinese�and idea he got from a commentator Jim Rogers, who hired a Chinese nanny to teach English to his daughter. The couple can't afford to hire a Chinese nanny, and there's now a big run on them in many American cities which has pushed the price up. But the couple is considering sending their children to a preschool with a Chinese immersion program. The school started the Chinese program because there was a demand for it says the Chinese director of the school. New preschool programs are one indication that parents are trying to raise their kids bilingually, and another is the rise in foreign language children's books. This book distributor says sales are up for children's books in Chinese and Spanish, but also in seemingly less popular languages, Vietnamese, Hindi for example. In other words people who speak these languages have discovered that these books exist and they're introducing them to their American born children. A couple of decades ago that wasn't possible. For a long time, parents worried that making children learn two languages would impair their English skills, but recent studies have shown that bilingual children develop more sophisticated executive function, the ability to plan and think abstractly. There was more good news for bilingualism last year: a well publicized study found that people who speak more than one language may keep the brain sharper later in life and stave off dementia for up to four years. All of the parents considering this type of education are trying to give their kids a leg up in globalized, multi-lingual America.

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