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Authors Advocate Teaching Children To Be 'Globally-Minded'

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Parents should encourage their children to become globally competent to succeed in an increasingly interconnected, multicultural world, according to the authors of a new book.

In "Raising Global Children," coauthors Stacie Nevadomski Berdan and Marshall S. Berdan, provide parents with specific advice and strategies to assist them to raise their children to become more globally aware. 

The book's official launch will be held during the conference of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) in Orlando Nov. 22 to Nov. 24. The ACTFL published the book.

Global children are curious, open-minded and aware of the world around them, explained Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, during a recent telephone interview. Berdan, an international careers expert, said that following the Sept. 11 terror attacks, many Americans "contracted," becoming less accepting and, understandably, more fearful.

"I think there's this element of people who still equate patriotism with putting a fence around our country," Berdan said. "That's not possible anymore."

Today, Berdan added: "Children need to be appreciative and understand each other and not be afraid of each other."

The authors, who are married and the parents of twin 13-year-old daughters, surveyed more than 1,000 "globally successful professionals," some who also are parents seeking to raise "globally-minded" children and young adults.

The survey found that: 

  • 98 percent believe that children should learn a second language, as early as possible.
  • 69 percent agreed that being proficient in a second language is important to a successful career today—83 percent agreed it would be important in 5 years.
  • 84 percent agreed that having a global mindset is important to careers today.

According to a news release from the ACTFL, only 16 states have a foreign language requirement for graduation, with most of that instruction beginning at ages 13 and 14—the age that research shows that the ability to learn foreign languages begins to decline.

The book's authors believe that parents can expose their children to new cultures using such tried-and-true methods as books and travel. They also give parents advocacy strategies they can use to champion efforts to establish foreign-language instruction programs in their children's schools.

My heritage made it simple to grow up globally aware. My father was from Grenada, while my mother was from Canada. Calypso music filled my ears, and West Indian food filled my belly. I was enrolled in a French immersion program as a 5-year-old. And my mother was a devout traveller, so I have been to the top of the Eiffel Tower and cruised down the Rhine River.

But most parents today are grappling with the emphasis on testing in education and the immense pressure to involve children in after-school activities. There's seemingly little time to tackle the world too.

Still, recognizing that my parents somehow raised a global child, at bedtime I promise to add: "bonne nuit." It's time to dust off my dad's yummy curry chicken recipe, too.

 

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