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Ethan

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Does the future of education lie in bilingualism? Is it even possible?

Hi everyone, I have been pondering for some time as to the role of language in cross-cultural interactions. As a bilingual, I have had the privilege of conversing across cultures to try and understand people from different perspectives. To me, language isn't just a medium of communication; it is a passport that grants people access to cultural knowledge.

I am also keenly aware, however, that imposing mandatory learning of a secondary language on the masses will provoke resistance and discomfort. More importantly, it seems to me that most people speak and think in a master language; that is, the language that they use in daily conversations, and the medium from which they interpret the sciences and the humanities. In that sense, few people can claim to be equally fluent in 2 or more languages.

So it is both uncomfortable and difficult to introduce bilingualism/multilingualism en masse, which leads me to some huge dilemmas:

Should we teach all children 2 languages?

Do you think it would eventually result in some form of cultural erosion as one's original master language is less spoken?

Would we end up in some sort of grey area whereby many children who cannot cope with bilingualism retains no master language at all?

And finally, would a bilingual world be a better place? (Forget world peace, what about cultural diversity??)

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    Nov 29 2011: I am also bilingual but curiously so. I was born and first learned Telugu (a South Indian dialect). At around 3 or 4 I could speak very fluently and well in it. At the same time I joined pre-school and learned English. Today I am a master at English and I use it to communicate effectively. I can express myself in it perfectly as it is truly my mother tongue. I am still fluent in Telugu but I lack the vocabulary and proper grammar to communicate anything but simple day to day talk.

    What is truly strange is I think I am a master at English because it was wired into my brain second. I approach it in a more "proper" way.

    Anyway that background was just so I could say this: I think it is *very* important for people to be fluent in two languages. I am unsure of where you are from but here in northwest Indiana it is required that we take 3 years of one language or 2 years of 2 languages (other than English) to graduate.

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