The long-term effects of colonization and assimilation have ridden many such communities of their native tongue, and unfortunately socioeconomic circumstances today have not made the task of resurrecting such languages any easier.
There is also the benefit of bilingualism/multilingualism with regards to intellect and academic capacity, particularly for children in the early years of their life.
Research has been done surrounding the role bilingualism plays in developing the executive control system of the brain, the section of the brain which monitors and controls multi-tasking, concentration, and the ability to process several different thoughts at once.
The benefits of learning a new language in terms of intellectual development are clearly existing and important, however, what is significant is the personal and communal benefits of learning a native language.
In communities where the culture and native language is endangered, teaching children, who are often more apt at picking up languages, will help protect and restore dying languages.
The Native American community, along with other communities around the world that have suffered at the hands of colonialism, continue to face several large hardships. These include unemployment, substance abuse, and mental health problems.
A lot of these stem from a loss of identity and culture, things that were shunned for years under suppressive regimes. By teaching children their native tongues, a sense of identity and belonging is being instilled, simultaneously teaching them to accept and be proud of their heritage and upbringing.
Many children lack interest in their education because they’re missing some degree of personal connection to the things they’re learning. By introducing them to their native language and perhaps even instructing them in their native language, these children find a personal connection with their learning.
This connection can harness itself to a greater appreciation for one’s culture and education, and foster a positive relationship with the education system, one that may contradict the negative experiences among minority groups and the education system in the past.
Learning your native language also helps connect you to your ancestors and culture in a way that many other things don’t. For immigrants or children of immigrants, it’s increasingly important to keep some form of connection with one’s heritage, to serve as a continuous reminder of the hardships and challenges that had been overcome to sustain the immigrant lifestyle.
Our native language not only allows us to communicate and connect with one another, but it allows us to understand and appreciate the history of our ancestors and our upbringing. It cultivates an appreciation and understanding that is beyond beneficial for children, especially those from diverse familial backgrounds.