Benefits of a Bilingual Education

by Lexa Pennington /
Lexa Pennington's picture
Nov 30, 2012 / 0 comments

With the world becoming smaller, and the workforce becoming more global, one of the most important things you can do for your child is to expose them to different cultures and languages. It’s long been said that children are most easily able to learn languages, because their brains are still developing and growing. If you’re able to provide an international education that includes language learning, your child will experience significant advantages over their lifetime. This can include a diverse worldview, a higher IQ, acceptance into prestigious universities, better job opportunities, and, of course, the joy of feeling at home in several parts of the world.


For decades romance languages were the big draw, but the trend over the past few years and into the foreseeable future is Chinese. China is such an economic stronghold, that learning Chinese is an incredible asset to anyone. I personally know at least four families that have moved, this year, to China to pursue a Bilingual education for their children. They have enrolled in a Chinese International School, settled in an apartment, and are learning to thrive in a new and diverse environment.


If you’re inclined to follow in the footsteps of these language and culture learners, where do you start? And how can bilingual education help your children?


Generally, expats move to one of the two large cities, Beijing or Shanghai. It’s easier – there are plenty of international schools in China, as well as services for foreigners (and there is the presence of a large group of foreigners, from all around the world).


Once you’ve decided on your location, you will want to research the local schools. Finding a Shanghai International School requires a great deal of thought as to what you are expecting from the education your kids will receive. If you’re moving to China for the advantages of learning another language, be SURE that the school they attend is a bilingual school, with faculty in both languages. Ascertain what the curriculum entails, and in which languages it will be taught. Trust me – immersion is brilliant, but bilingual education is even more so. It takes the best of learning another language, and enhances that learning with the native language. It ensures that the students learn the curriculum in their native language, and build fluency in the second one, as well.


So you’re now in China, your family is settled, your job is working out well (or you’re a digital nomad), and your child is thriving in their bilingual school.


What lifetime benefits can you expect from this huge life change?


Your whole family will have an enhanced worldview and shared experiences.

From learning in a bilingual environment, your children will:

•    Have higher-order thinking skills

•    Participate in engaged, focused learning

•    Experience rich linguistic and cultural diversity on a daily basis

•    Prepares them for learning and working in the global economy

•    Increase awareness and participation in global peace initiatives as students live in and learn from a multicultural environment

•    Learn to navigate in different cultures and environments

•    Gain acceptance into more prestigious colleges, because of their bilingual and bicultural experiences

•    Change their career trajectory, toward international activities and jobs that pay higher, are more exciting, and include travel

•    Become true global citizens



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