Have you ever dreamed of having your Son or Daughter on your dream vacation to Paris, Mexico, Argentina, China, German 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
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, and Tolerance
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! )
Many academics 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
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
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
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
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, and even those are not true in every case:
1- Additional Effort For The Parents
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
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. Keeping 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 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
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
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.
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.
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!