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BESIG 2023 Annual Conference - Ben's Thoughts on Peter Westerhuis's Talk on Bilingualism

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

The focus of this talk was the economic benefits of bilingualism.

Bilingualism is a subject that I am always keen to hear about as it resonates with me on a personal level; raising a child in an Anglo-Chinese / Sino-British home, this has been something my wife and I have been very keen to develop in our son. Indeed, one of the first gifts we received when expecting our little one was a copy of Barbara Zurer Pearson’s Raising a Bilingual Child from fellow Distance Cert director Michelle Hunter.

Peter Started his talk with some interesting definitions of bilingualism as can be seen here:

Peter continued to talk about some true or false statements:

- Bilingualism helps you learn other languages

- Bilingualism has (Positive) health consequences

- Bilingual people are more open-minded and flexible

All of which, according to what I know, are true.

Peter highlighted the following benefits that can be seen here:

Peter went on to highlight the economic benefits that bilingualism brings such as:

· Enhanced employability

· Higher salaries

· Higher job security

· International trade options increasing between countries with one common language

I felt Peter gave a wonderful single sentence summary - "as a company you will always trade more but as an individual you will always earn more". At a company and individual level, there is always a guaranteed return on investment. The more a person learns, the more productive we will be.

This was a great talk that spoke to me on a person level but was also hugely interesting on the professional level.

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