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Bilingual Education

Overview

Teach the minority in a language they can actually understand.

Description

Ever hear the phrase, "That's like Greek to me"? It's usually after someone explains something very complicated that's sciency or mathy. It's intended to mean that the concept is utterly baffling to you. Now, think for a second how little sense that statement makes if you're Greek.

There are all kinds of assumptions that a dominant culture might make. Members of the dominant culture probably don't even think about them. They're not malicious or anything like that, but they can have the effect of alienating people who aren't part of that dominant culture.

We here at Shmoop have a guideline: "Don't be a jerk." No one is trying to be a jerk here, because most people aren't even aware there's a problem. Once you do know there's a problem, though, it's time to correct things. That's where bilingual and crosscultural education comes in.

There are tons of benefits for children learning another language, too. The first and most obvious is how they can communicate with a whole bunch of new people. Think of the stories they'll get—think of the anecdotes, the limericks, the jokes, the bathroom graffiti. It's a whole new world opening up.

Another less obvious benefit is that learning multiple languages just makes you smarter. Like, there's actually evidence for that. Yep, you can grow brand new gray matter just because you finally decided to learn Serbian. Well, not growing new gray matter. Just adding folds. That's right, it's the folds that make you smarter, so the more your brain looks like an adorable Shar Pei puppy, the smarter you are.

Bilingual education manages to help out with both of these. On one hand, you get a population of people getting educated and learning the dominant language, and on the other hand, you get a fresh and new bilingual kid. They'll still have that fresh bilingual smell, too.

Crosscultural education is connected to this. It often includes a language component, but it's specifically about cultures that are different enough that a little help in the classroom is a good idea. The United States has been a nation of immigrants from the beginning, so folding in new populations is as American as apple pie.

There are tons of reasons to want to get involved in this major. Maybe you wanted to be a teacher, but you also have a deep love of your South American/Eastern European/Antarctican/Galactic Federation roots. If you're a fluent speaker of a foreign tongue, there will likely be a demand for you.

In fact, what language you speak well will determine where you work. While there's always a demand for Spanish speakers, there are pockets of immigrant populations all over the country who could use some attention.

Or maybe you're from one of these countries and you want to give back. You're good like that.

Famous People who majored in Bilingual Education

  • Dr. Luis Antonio Báez, executive director of the Council for the Spanish Speaking
  • Peggy Hill of King of the Hill
  • Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (with library science)
  • Professor Albus Dumbledore (with alchemy, spells, and potions)
  • Professor Charles Xavier (with genetics)

Percentage of US students who major in Bilingual Education:

N/A (figure not available)

Stats obtained from this source.