Knowing a second language can be a big advantage: Being bilingual can help people get a job in a vast range of professions, from fast food employees to doctors, and it’s been shown that children who can speak, read and write in two or more languages have cognitive advantages over monolingual kids, from better attention to the ability to more easily switch tasks. In New Mexico, one would think more people would have a leg up when it comes to being bilingual because so many enter the school system speaking a language other than English . According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 35 percent of New Mexicans speak a language other than English at home, with 30 percent Spanish speakers.
But with a shortage of bilingual and dual language classrooms in New Mexico, bilingual students may have a difficult time maintaining the Spanish they learned at home. English learners have a diminished opportunity to become biliterate, or even succeed in school at all.