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Bilingualism benefits last throughout lifetime

This year, Park Rapids Community Education is offering Spanish classes for both adults and younger children. The Spanish program should benefit the people (and especially children) of Park Rapids greatly.

This year, Park Rapids Community Education is offering Spanish classes for both adults and younger children. The Spanish program should benefit the people (and especially children) of Park Rapids greatly.

US schools in general are placing greater emphasis on learning foreign languages. The ability to speak another language offers many advantages other than the ability to communicate with another world population.

Studies show learning another language at an early age improves intellectual development in other academic areas, particularly in English and math. Students fluent in a foreign language have consistently performed better on scholastic aptitude tests than those who are not.

Learning a foreign language increases a child's problem-solving skills. A 1997 study administered to bilingual and monolingual children found bilingual kids scored higher on the Preschool Interpersonal Problem Solving Scale than their counterparts. Another study of 60 preschool children concluded children with second-language skills have more attention when performing cognitive tasks.

As people get older, the ability to speak a second language correlates to the prevention of age-related memory loss. A study from the 2004 "Psychology and Aging" journal determined bilingual speakers are better able to execute memory-related tasks and can respond more quickly to memory-related decision making.

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Additionally, learning a second language at an early age comes remarkably easy, compared with starting a language in high school or as an adult. A study published in Science News found children use the same neural pathways to learn multiple languages, strengthening the use of all of them. Adults must build new neural networks to learn another language.

Of course, bilingual speakers also benefit in the workplace. In addition to being able to speak to more potential trade partners and employees, the increased communicative effectiveness tends to earn bilingual employees more money.

Parents should seriously consider enrolling their children in the Spanish class through Community Education. Whatever language, bilingualism is a boon for its speakers.

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