Teaching Spanish

Why should my preschooler learn another language now?

Will he/she not get confused?

Across the world it is rare for children to be raised monolingual (i.e. speaking only one language). Between 65-70% of the world’s children are being raised bilingually. Some countries can boast trilingual speakers. In the UK slowly with the Free school network there are a number of Bilingual schools opening up but it is not common place for monolingual speakers to raise their children bilingual without support or being married to native speaker. According to the European Union (2013), 9/10 Europeans say that mastering languages is good for their children’s future and 77% believe that this should be a priority. 53% use languages at work and 45% think they got a better job because of the languages they spoke. Across Europe language earning starts much earlier than the UK however from 2014 language learning will be compulsory from age 7. I don’t think this is early enough. Many studies have shown that children as young as seven months show differences in their responses if raised bilingual, babies can distinguish language from the womb!

The process of sifting two languages improves and makes the ‘Prefrontal Cortex’ more agile, this area of the brain is responsible for human forms of expression. As your child grows with two or more languages they become more adept at controlling the languages and using one or both on demand.

Will my child not be slower linguistically or academically?

Children that are raised with two languages or more may have the same amount of words on average as monolinguals, they may know the colours ‘ yellow, red, azul , Amarillo, morado, green, verde’ whereas the monolingual child may only know ‘ green, blue, red, purple, orange.  Both can identify five colours. Studies have shown that children taught languages can surpass their monolingual counterparts in Maths and in English as they learn to compartmentalize, they become more flexible in their approaches to problem solving and can apply grammatical structures and rules from one language to the other.

Is my child a language sponge?Image

Not exactly, young children have an auditory advantage over adults. They seem to be better at articulating the sounds they hear. They are able to develop a native accent almost effortlessly without thought. Their brains create a path between the sounds they hear and the facial muscles involved in producing them. Children learn by human interaction. Parents, teachers, all people involved are important success factors in your child’s fluency. All the dvds, cds etc. will not develop a fluent speaker

Can’t I wait till they are older, at primary, secondary?

Of course but the prime time for learning a language is prior to seven years old, for these reasons:

  • better accent and pronunciation that I have mentioned
  • less social pressure, or self-awareness
  • longer time to become a daily habit
  • improved brain development

My child has special needs, he/she can’t learn another language?

According to experts there is no reason that a child with any language or cognitive disability should not learn another language

‘Parents of special needs children including those with Down syndrome are frequently counseled away from bilingualism without the benefit of research to show how capable that actually can be. Ours is the first group study that documented that children with Down syndrome can become bilingual. There is no evidence in our study to suggest input should be restricted to a single language. In fact these children can do very well in acquiring two languages’. Dr Elizabeth Key-Raining Bird.

Please search online for mothers, bloggers and experts:

Downs Syndrome-

Pamela   Wilson

Eliana   Tardio

Autism-

Paula   Bendfeldt-Diaz

Sandrine   Berge

SPD-

Olga   Mecking

Recap

Having a second language/ being bilingual has many advantages (socially, cognitively and gives many global advantages in the professional realm and cultural acceptance and awareness). Learning a language also delays the onset of dementia, provides increased cognitive flexibility, multitasking abilities and linguistic advantages to first language. The New York Times cites that ‘Bilinguals are smarter and provides boosts to solving mental tasks’. It is never too late to learn a language and the majority of the benefits are open to you or your children at any age.

Above all, language learning should be fun!!! http://www.bilinguebabies.com

2 thoughts on “Why should my preschooler learn another language now?

  1. I am raising my son to be bilingual Portuguese and English because my wife is Brazilian and I agree that the advantages of being multilingual far outweigh the occasional disadvantage.

    The only problem with expanding language education in schools is that, if you have a finite budget (which we certainly do in the UK) then it is probably better to invest all of that money in quality language education from 11-16 rather than spread the same resources out over the lifetime of a child.

    • Many European countries see language learning as such an asset and start so early. Maybe every degree course should have a compulsory language element and esp all primary teacher training courses too. Your child is truly blessed. Have a great summer

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