Our kids are growing up in a society that is increasingly bilingual. It’s time to introduce second-language concepts to the youngest, even at a very early age, and here are just a few of the reasons why.
1. Bilingual Children have an Academic Advantage.
Studies in language development show that when young children have more exposure to all languages at an early age, it actually gives them a distinct academic advantage throughout life. They are also able to demonstrate higher levels of cognitive flexibility, or the ability to change responses based on environment and circumstances.
2. Bilingualism Improves Life-Long Learning Skills.
For children to truly see the full potential multi-lingualism has on learning, exposure to non-native languages should actually begin long before Kindergarten. However, even children who learn their first German or Spanish words at the age of 2-5 can benefit from dual-language curriculum. Learning is learning. The more that children can take advantage of new concepts, the more in tune their brains will be to all learning throughout life.
3. It Helps to Remove International Language Barriers.
There are also the cultural benefits to children learning two languages together. The children who come from English-speaking homes can lend their language expertise to friends from German-speaking homes, and vice versa. Contemporary communication technology has eliminated many global barriers when it comes to socialization and even doing business. It makes sense that language boundaries should also come down and with help from our K-12 education system.
4. It Leads to Collaborative Learning.
Dual language programs show children a broader world-view, whatever the native language of the child is, and lead to greater opportunities for collaborative learning.
5. Early Bilingual Education Increases Fluency in Later Years.
It generally takes 5–7 years to be proficient in a second language. In other words, children should be introduced to a second language at a young age in order to be fluent by adulthood. In fact, I believe that all K-12 students should have Spanish, French, German and English fluency by graduation.
As a result, there really should be no reason why these students are not introduced to a second language as early as Kindergarten.
What is your opinion?