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Pros and Cons of Bilin­gual Edu­ca­tion / Pros and Cons Of Learn­ing a Sec­ond Lan­guage At An Ear­ly Age / Dis­ad­van­tages Of Learn­ing For­eign Language Have you ever dreamed of hav­ing your Son or Daugh­ter on your dream vaca­tion to Paris, Mex­i­co, Argenti­na, Chi­na, Ger­many or Egypt and enjoy watch­ing them com­mu­ni­cate and nego­ti­ate like a native speak­er?! It might be a big dream now, but dream­ing big is the first step towards suc­cess, so go with the nec­es­sary steps, and you are going to reach your goal! In this arti­cle, we are going to talk about Bilin­gual edu­ca­tion at in Ear­ly age — Pros/Cons, the appro­pri­ate age to con­sid­er teach­ing your chil­dren a sec­ond lan­guage. And some tips for start­ing a bilin­gual edu­ca­tion at an ear­ly age.

 Pros of a Bilingual Education

1. Motivates Kids’ Skills In Their Native Language

Bilingual education in Early age - Pros/Cons Years ago, peo­ple believed that learn­ing a sec­ond lan­guage would con­fuse a child. Now, research shows that chil­dren who study a for­eign lan­guage per­form bet­ter in their native lan­guage than non-bilin­gual stu­dents, and the advan­tage increas­es the ear­li­er you expose them to the sec­ond lan­guage.

2. Encourages Wisdom, Empathy, Curiosity, Cultural sensitivity & Tolerance

Bilingual education in Early age - Pros/Cons

Wis­dom devel­ops from per­son­al expe­ri­ences. Bilin­gual edu­ca­tion pro­vides stu­dents with more of those per­son­al expe­ri­ences over time. With greater wis­dom, improved deci­sions are easy to make, which can cre­ate the foun­da­tion of a bet­ter life. The first sev­en years of a child’s life are when a child’s belief sys­tem starts to grow. Learn­ing a dif­fer­ent lan­guage can make them more aware of cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences; they also come to under­stand why those dif­fer­ences exist and the impor­tance of respect­ing cul­tures dif­fer­ent from their own experiences.

3. Improves Kids’ Brain Function ( Bilinguals Are Smarter! )

Bilingual education in Early age - Pros/Cons Many aca­d­e­m­ic stud­ies showed that bilin­gual peo­ple are bet­ter at tasks requir­ing mul­ti-task­ing and atten­tion focus­ing than monolinguals. Brain scans show they have more gray mat­ter in the regions of their brains, which is vital for the exec­u­tive func­tions skills ( Emo­tion­al Con­trol, Work­ing Mem­o­ry, Inhi­bi­tion, Ini­ti­a­tion, Plan­ning and pri­or­i­ti­za­tion, Shift, Orga­ni­za­tion, and Self-monitoring )
These ben­e­fits show up ear­ly – new research shows that even babies less than a year old exposed to mul­ti­ple lan­guages show dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive pat­terns in their brain com­pared to monolinguals. Some researchers argue that the best way to have smarter kids is to expose them to mul­ti­ple lan­guages when they are young.

4. It Improves Test Scores In English, Mathematics And Science

Bilingual education in Early age - Pros/Cons
Nobody can doubt the pow­er of lan­guage. But who would have imag­ined that the words we hear and the sen­tences we speak might leave that skill­ful touch in our minds? 
Stud­ies of thou­sands of high school stu­dents have found that stu­dents who have stud­ied for­eign lan­guages per­form bet­ter on the Amer­i­can Col­lege Test (ACT) for Eng­lish and Mathematics.
Addi­tion­al stud­ies have found that SAT-ver­bal scores improve with the length of time stu­dents have stud­ied the for­eign lan­guage. So if you want your kids to nail those tests, encour­age them to learn a for­eign language!

4. It Can Be Turned Into An After-School Activity

Many school dis­tricts across the Unit­ed States and Cana­da have start­ed enrich­ment pro­grams that intro­duce stu­dents as young as 5 to a sec­ond lan­guage. Although these pro­grams are not as long or involved as full bilin­gual edu­ca­tion, they can be the start of the learn­ing progress.

5. It Prepares Children For More Future Career Opportunities

Many jobs in edu­ca­tion, health­care, tourism, trans­la­tion, social work, nation­al secu­ri­ty, and inter­na­tion­al busi­ness require or favour bilin­gual candidates. And speak­ing a for­eign lan­guage can make it eas­i­er for your kids to be eli­gi­ble for intern­ships and work-study pro­grams in oth­er coun­tries, espe­cial­ly if they have crit­i­cal skills like Med­i­cine or Engineering.

6. It Helps Train A Child’s Ear For Music

Bilingual education in Early age - Pros/Cons
Stud­ies showed that speak­ers of tonal lan­guages, like Man­darin and Can­tonese, were bet­ter at iden­ti­fy­ing musi­cal pitch­es than speak­ers of non-tonal lan­guages like Eng­lish and French.

7. Helps Connecting Kids To Their Heritage

agirl sitting with her lovely grandma

Many par­ents want their chil­dren to learn a for­eign lan­guage so they can speak to fam­i­ly mem­bers in their native tongue. Learn­ing a her­itage lan­guage will not only improve com­mu­ni­ca­tion, but it also comes along with hav­ing a good view of the cul­tur­al tra­di­tions. That can help chil­dren appre­ci­ate their fam­i­ly’s approach and points of view, which could be a cor­ner­stone for your kids’ future!

8. It Makes Travel More Fun, Exciting Travel Adventures And Deeper Insights Into How Others See The World

Bilingual education in Early age - Pros/Cons

Being able to speak the lan­guage of the coun­try they’re vis­it­ing unlocks the pos­si­bil­i­ty of deep­er con­nec­tions and under­stand­ing. And most for­eign­ers will appre­ci­ate the effort your chil­dren are mak­ing even if they aren’t flu­ent yet. Putting their lan­guage skills to use in “real life” can also be a moti­va­tion boost­er for kids. Even know­ing basics like hel­lo, bye, please, and thank you can go to make a trip more fun!

9- It Helps Prevent Age-Related Cognitive Decline

Some stud­ies showed that peo­ple who reg­u­lar­ly speak a sec­ond lan­guage might be able to delay Alzheimer’s dis­ease and oth­er types of demen­tia by 4–5 years. The hypoth­e­sis is that by improv­ing the brain’s exec­u­tive func­tion, bilin­guals devel­op a “cog­ni­tive reserve,” which helps delay symp­toms of dementia.

Cons of a Bilingual Education

The truth is that there are only 10 poten­tial dis­ad­van­tages of learn­ing for­eign lan­guage, and even those are not true in every case:

1- Additional Effort For The Parents

Bilingual education in Early age - Pros/Cons / disadvantages of learning foreign language That is prob­a­bly the biggest issue. Rais­ing a mul­ti­lin­gual child is a com­mit­ment, and it is a long-term invest­ment in your child! It will require extra effort on your part to pro­vide enough lan­guage expo­sure, extra encour­age­ment, keep­ing your lan­guage use con­sis­tent. At some points, you will need to change the lan­guage you are using dur­ing the dai­ly rou­tine at your home. It can feel a bit awk­ward at first if you intro­duce a new lan­guage into the fam­i­ly but rest assured that it sim­ply becomes a part of your dai­ly rou­tine after a few weeks. It’s eas­i­er to raise a mul­ti­lin­gual sec­ond child if your first child is raised that way. Your first will end up doing a lot of the work for you by sim­ply being a blab­ber­mouth all the time!

2- Speaking Later

While there’s no sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence that proves mul­ti­lin­gual begin speak­ing lat­er. How­ev­er, many par­ents esti­mate that there is a three to six-month delay com­pared to mono­lin­gual chil­dren the same age.  Even so, six months is a small price to pay for your kid’s abil­i­ty to speak two or three languages!

3- Mixing Languages

a confused teen with lots of textbook arouund him on a desk / disadvantages of learning foreign language Mix­ing words are preva­lent in chil­dren learn­ing more than one lan­guage at a time. But this is a tem­po­rary phenomenon. At the age of four or five, it has most­ly dis­ap­peared. Keep in mind that chil­dren who are learn­ing only one lan­guage often use the wrong word until they learn the right one. The best rem­e­dy is to be con­sis­tent when talk­ing to your child and nev­er for­get that prac­tice makes perfect!

4. Education In A Second Language Can Be Inconsistent

Some school dis­tricts stop their bilin­gual edu­ca­tion in high school. Some school dis­tricts don’t even offer a bilin­gual edu­ca­tion as an option.

Because of this incon­sis­ten­cy, some stu­dents may lose some of their sec­ond lan­guage abil­i­ties sim­ply because they aren’t using it every day.

5. Bilingual Education Is Not Cheap

Many schools are already cut­ting their cre­ative class­es for fund­ing issues. So, the cost of adding bilin­gual cours­es is some­thing that many schools don’t have on their plan­ning list. Experts stat­ed that a sin­gle-lan­guage pro­gram is eas­i­er and cheap­er to oper­ate and can still pro­vide the essen­tial skills that the stu­dent may require by adding some art and cre­ative activ­i­ties to the lan­guage classes!

6. Bilingual Education Can Shift A Student’s Focus

If a bilin­gual edu­ca­tion pro­gram is divid­ed into a stan­dard 50/50 split dur­ing the school day, stu­dents who strug­gle with the new lan­guage may find them­selves focused on the sec­ond lan­guage only.

For the schools that pro­vide cre­ative or ath­let­ic class­es. If the stu­dent falls behind on the sec­ond lan­guage and strug­gles to keep up with their class­work, their only option is to try to catch up on the sec­ond lan­guage instead of learn­ing essen­tial life skills.

7. There May Be A Lack Of Qualified Teachers And Assistants

For bilin­gual edu­ca­tion to be effec­tive, it must be immer­sive. We need to have teach­ers and teach­ing assis­tants who are flu­ent in both languages.

With Mod­ern edu­ca­tion­al require­ments, many teach­ers are strug­gling to meet the min­i­mum require­ments in many sub­jects. There isn’t time to add anoth­er lan­guage to the mix.

After look­ing at Bilin­gual edu­ca­tion in Ear­ly age — Pros/Cons, we need to know what is the appro­pri­ate age to con­sid­er teach­ing your chil­dren a sec­ond lan­guage.

The Younger, The Better!

Stud­ies by Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty con­firm that cre­ativ­i­ty, crit­i­cal think­ing skills, and flex­i­bil­i­ty of the mind are sig­nif­i­cant­ly improved if chil­dren learn a sec­ond lan­guage at a younger age. Preschool years, espe­cial­ly the first 3 years of life, are believed to be vital in a child’s life. That is when the foun­da­tions for atti­tudes, think­ing, and learn­ing, among oth­ers, are laid down. Research has shown that 50% of our learn­ing abil­i­ty devel­oped by age 4 and anoth­er 30% by age 8. That is why three-year-olds are encour­aged to learn a sec­ond lan­guage. How­ev­er, this doesn’t mean that 80% of one’s knowl­edge or intel­li­gence is formed until they are eight years old. It sim­ply means that chil­dren devel­op their main learn­ing path­ways dur­ing their first few years of life. Although chil­dren’s minds are known for being “like a sponge,” which absorbs every­thing, it is rec­om­mend­ed to give them enough time to acquire and ful­ly under­stand one lan­guage before intro­duc­ing anoth­er one. Oth­er­wise, they might go through a con­fus­ing time in which they won’t know how to express themselves.

Some Tips For Beginning Bilingual Education In Early Age 

1- Surround The Child With More Than One Language Through Conversations And Social Groups

A groub of kids having sharing drinking healthy water in a park / disadvantages of learning foreign language Expose chil­dren to mul­ti­lin­gual expo­sure and give them lots of oppor­tu­ni­ties to play and chat with chil­dren who speak the sec­ond lan­guage. Main­tain home (her­itage) lan­guage when a sec­ond lan­guage is learned out­side the home. Pro­vide fun and enter­tain­ing lan­guage-learn­ing resources ( music, dance and DVDs) in both lan­guages, often with chil­dren of sim­i­lar ages. Always pro­mote read­ing and sto­ry­telling in mul­ti­ple lan­guages; try to find out a favourite sto­ry for your kid in mul­ti­ple lan­guages and start to read and see how they will be so excit­ed about that!

2- Do Not Create False Expectations

Chil­dren who are in con­tact with a sec­ond lan­guage can­not reach results as bilin­gual chil­dren with­out the inten­si­ty of tru­ly bilin­gual education. Par­ents must be clear and not hav­ing false expec­ta­tions, like, for exam­ple, think­ing that the chil­dren with a few hours of Eng­lish a week will be able to speak this lan­guage flu­id­ly after a month or even ten!

3. A second Language Is Best Learned In Close Contact With A Native Speaker

For suc­cess­ful antic­i­pa­tion of a sec­ond lan­guage at an ear­ly age, it is vital to have your kid in direct con­tact with a native speak­er. Such con­tact can be through the fam­i­ly, day­care, or a pri­vate teacher

4. Take Advantage Of Varied Materials To Intensify And To Motivate The Learning

Bilingual education in Early age - Pros/Cons - disadvantages of learning foreign language There are var­i­ous prod­ucts in the mar­ket, like books, CDs, DVDs, and games that can help with learn­ing a sec­ond lan­guage. All these mate­ri­als are ide­al for main­tain­ing the child’s inter­est in a lan­guage because they rein­force the learn­ing playfully.

5. Start As Soon As Possible

The best moment to start is before the child begins to speak. In this way, the child can hear the sec­ond lan­guage and its rhythms for a long peri­od, like a bilin­gual child, before they can start to speak.

6. Do Not Interfere Directly

It is impor­tant that the par­ents do not com­mit the error to speak to their chil­dren a lit­tle bit in the sec­ond lan­guage, as this only con­fus­es the child.

7. Do Not Press Your Children Too Much

Do not force your child too much, as such pres­sure will only lead your child to reject the sec­ond lan­guage. let them pick up lan­guages in a play­ful way (15 Lan­guage Games and Activ­i­ties for Fam­i­ly Fun at Home)

8. Be Consistent

A sec­ond lan­guage’s impuls­es must be con­sis­tent and con­stant since chil­dren learn fast, but they also for­get very quick­ly. The sec­ond lan­guage must be present in a child’s rou­tine in the same form in which it accom­pa­nies bilin­gual children. A trip to a for­eign coun­try, a lan­guage course, class­es in school or a cul­tur­al meet­ing can acti­vate the pas­sive vocab­u­lary that the child has acquired through the years.

Final thought!

Yes, it is incred­i­ble as it may sound when you have your kid speak­ing a new lan­guage. Learn­ing is indeed a sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment, and chil­dren don’t even real­ize they are learn­ing not one but three for­eign languages! So, Don’t Hes­i­tate; go for Two or even Three; you are going to be reward­ed with a smarter kid!

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