Raising kids in a bilingual, or multilingual, household benefits them in many ways. Multilingual kids have been shown to do better in school than their monolingual peers. Speaking multiple languages opens up social opportunities for kids, in and outside of school. There have even been studies that suggest bilingual adults have a lower risk of stroke!
As your kids get older, being bilingual may help them in other ways. Bilingual teens have more and higher quality work opportunities available to them! Using their natural gift of language can give them a leg up at the beginning of their professional lives.
Competitiveness in the Job Market
Even when searching out traditional job opportunities, being bilingual may give your teen the advantage. In most communities, a significant population speaks a language other than English in the home, with Spanish being the most common. In urban communities, the number of different languages spoken goes up significantly. Despite this, most Americans don’t speak a second language and rely solely on English for communication. Speaking a second language, any language, is incredibly valuable in a professional position and stands out on a job application.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor, translators and interpreters are among the top 15 fastest growing career fields. Everyone from the Armed Forces to Fortune 500s need bilingual or multilingual employees to increase their global reach. For bilingual teens, this means a potentially lucrative career path that they can explore before college. These positions may be with local businesses, large corporations, or remote. Whether they are looking for part-time, flexible, or summer work; your bilingual teenager could commodity their second language.
Being bilingual may mean earning more money. Teens who are bilingual may be able to find jobs that pay an extra bonus or hourly rate for that specialized skill. Though much of the benefit of multilingual differential pay comes at the management level, starting in a position at a younger age can mean more earning potential as teens progress in their career.
For many young people, their first work experiences are summer jobs. For multilingual teenagers, being a camp counselor or summer intern could mean traveling to a foreign country. Speaking the language will make you and your child more comfortable exploring these options. When they are comfortable communicating in a different language, you can rest easy that they will be able to handle any challenges of world travel.
These types of summer opportunities are great, safe travel experiences for teens to immerse themselves in another culture. Most camps that hire foreign counselors cater to young people, providing plenty of training and supervision. Working with young children in a foreign country is a great way to practice their language skills and learn about cultural differences.
Even as an adult, being bilingual can open up specific niche opportunities. As a teenager, being bilingual can mean the difference between landing a high value position or being rejected. A great place to look for niche positions is education and child care. Speaking and listening to a language is critical when kids are first learning. Foreign language teachers are often looking for fluent speakers to help tutor younger students, or just to interact with them in the target language.
Working with ELL populations, English Language Learners, is another area that bilingual teens can thrive in. Even if your child doesn’t speak the same language as every student in the room, the experience of learning a second language is similar across cultures. With proper training and supervision, a bilingual teen can be an ideal teacher’s aid for an ELL class.
Technology has connected the globe and fostered the growth of global business. Being bilingual is a critical skill for finding remote and flexible work online. Translation and transcription are both competitive jobs that teens can start with little experience. Fluency in a second language is a sought-after skill in these industries. Teens as young as fifteen can find opportunities online that require fluency in more than one language, or opportunities in their second language.
Local Business and Organizations
Being bilingual offers teens more opportunities in their local communities, as well. Reaching out to local businesses can increase a teenager’s professional contacts, and eventually lead to meaningful work within the community. For business owners, a bilingual employee is a valuable member of the team.
Bilingual teens can take advantage of their skills to land high value positions at a young age. Job opportunities that utilize those language skills offer a myriad of benefits to your teen, as well. Teenagers who communicate in both languages on a regular basis will maintain their language skills better than those who don’t. Taking advantage of travel and remote opportunities gives teens hands-on, cultural education. Plus, these opportunities look great on college apps and CVs as your teenager moves through their professional journey! Encourage your teenager to take advantage of their language gifts.
Don’t forget to make use of the below resources to give your child the head start in learning languages.