There is ample research to demonstrate that a bilingual child has social, linguistic and cognitive advantages over his/her peers. Bilingual children out-perform their monolingual peers in study after study. Balanced bilinguals better comprehend the complexities of language and are more adept at correcting errors in language meaning and grammar. They think more creatively than their monolingual peers and understand the subtle meanings of words. They also demonstrate a more highly developed ability to vary word usage based on the needs of the listener.
Bilingual children also gain huge social advantages over their monolingual peers. These advantages are variously cultural, communicative and personal. Balanced bilinguals are more comfortable in a multi-cultural environment and are more tolerant and open-minded towards people, cultures, and languages.
Economic Growth – Tourism & Services Sector
A key objective of the Nicaraguan Government’s and World Bank’s poverty reduction plan for the country is to promote prosperity by raising incomes through improved productivity, competitiveness and diversification.
Tourism is a key growth sector, and Nicaragua is an emerging destination in the region, attracting more than 1 million foreign visitors per year, and contributing over $480m to the economy – a 25% growth since 2007.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (2014) this trend will continue, and there will be an 8.8% growth in international tourist spending in Nicaragua over the next decade.
The country was recently voted #4 in Best in Travel 2015 by Lonely Planet
According to the Instituto Nicaragüense de Turismo, (INTUR), the US, Canada and Europe accounted for 30% of arrivals in 2013. Many visitors from European countries do not expect employees to speak their language and therefore default to using English. Demand for bilingual staff is high.
However, the Asociación de Turoperadoras Turísticas de Nicaragua estimates that less than 25% of total tour guides are proficient in English, while the Asociacion de Pequeños Hoteles de Nicaragua (HOPEN) notes that less than half of those who apply for jobs in the sector can confidently speak English. Not only are some potential visitors hesitant to visit the country due to the lack of bilingual services but businesses also face higher costs due to the scarcity of bilingual employees, who charge a premium for their services. As a result, some industry stakeholders argue that those who attend university tourism or hospitality programs require basic proficiency in English to graduate. (Euromonitor Report 2014).
There has also been significant growth in the outsourcing services sector in the region. There are currently 4000 call centre employees delivering bilingual contact support services in and around Managua. As the sector strengthens, the need for bilingual employees will grow.
Granada is one of the Nicaragua’s most important cities – both politically, historically and economically – and its rich colonial heritage makes it the leading tourist destination in the country. In order to maximize the growth opportunities in the tourist sector it is essential that there is increased access to quality bilingual education in the city.