Think Bilingual Austin seeks to build and strengthen community and economic opportunities in the greater Austin area by providing the public with easy access to information and services on bilingualism, acquisition of a second language, bilingual educational and multicultural engagement.
Why Think Bilingual Austin?
Our local community is becoming more diverse while our local economy is becoming more interconnected to the global economy. For our community and economy to continue to thrive, it must find a way to connect and unite our increasingly diverse population in a way that encourages mutual respect and appreciation for our differences. Moreover, vital for the growth of our own economy, citizens must be capable of operating with ease in an increasingly global economy. Acquisition of a second language is just one important component in meeting these demands. Education and involvement in multicultural events are other key components.
Language is vital to the way we connect, communicate and relate with others. While language is universal to all people, language itself differs not only in syntax but also in cultural context. It embodies the mindset and unspecified belief system of a given culture or community. By learning a second language, one learns not only the syntax but also the overarching cultural mindset rooted in the language.
While this acquisition of a second language facilitates a deeper understanding of the culture and of the particular ethnic group/s rooted in the acquired language; it also enriches and deepens the way one understands his/her own culture. Likewise, the learning of one's heritage language can also tie an individual more richly to one's cultural heritage, and in turn, provide a greater sense of pride and belonging. Being bilingual and bicultural thus enables one to more effectively bridge cultural barriers that may exist and encourage more productive engagement, understanding and empathy across cultures of diverse groups. As such, an individual who is more open to and understanding of other cultures tends to exhibit less fear and intolerance of other ethnic groups.
Bilingualism has also been shown to have a significant cognitive benefit by improving executive functioning and by slowing down the cognitive decline as one ages. Being bilingual also has shown to enhance communication skills, perception and creativity. Hence, Think Bilingual Austin's mission to build and strengthen community and economy by facilitating bilingualism, bilingual education and multicultural exchange is an important step for both individual self-improvement and the continued development of a local thriving diverse community and economy.