I recently read an article with the above title in the New York Times – sent to me by my sister who is an instructor of young children in California in a “dual immersion” Spanish/English school. The article is a must read and wake-up call to our American-centric culture that for too long has under-emphasized the role of other languages. As Tom Friedman has pointed out, “The World is Flat” and as Jim O’Neill (BRICs and “The Growth Map”) has pointed out, the future of economic growth is multinational.
As the author of the article points out, research proves increases in mental acuity as well as other mental-health benefits of bilingualism. As many have said, language is the door to understanding culture and concepts that are foreign in one culture reveal themselves through language, food and the arts.
In business, finding growth is the name of the game – and one would think that the “Great Recession” would underscore the need to open our minds and budgets to a new reality where American business growth relies increasingly on spending by people from diverse cultures. Some are still in denial but the “smarter” ones are taking this to the bank.
An interesting twist to my sister’s (the instructor in the dual immersion school) story is that – contrary to her initial thinking that Spanish-dependent households would be the first to enroll in the dual immersion school – an over-abundance of well-educated non-Hispanic families jumped at the opportunity to broaden their childrens’ perspectives and thereby gain further intellectual (and mental health) advantages.
Someday, we’ll probably look back and wonder why it took so long for us to act upon what is so clear and sensible…hopefully before our national economy loses too much competitiveness relative to the rest of the non-English speaking world.
Founder and CEO
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