Bilingualism is a well-studied and well-documented research subject, but popular opinion continues to be divided on what constitutes a proper bilingual child, and what benefits they might reap from learning two languages simultaneously as opposed to learning how to master one before being introduced to others. We firmly believe that a bilingual education helps prepare any child for life inside and outside of daycare and school.
Most ‘traditional’ daycares and schools focus on the development of one language prior to introducing kids to a second or third language at a much later age. What we see as proper bilingual education, and as the preferable approach, is exposing the children to a second language at a much younger age, implementing fluid learning processes, ESL teaching and immersion, and attention to two languages regardless of native background. This begs the question, what do the kids take away from learning to speak two languages fluently from such a young age?
The first thing most parents wonder about it is how bilingual education influences the children’s ability to learn and what it means for their academic performance.
Diaz, R. (1985). he intellectual power of bilingualism. In Southwest Hispanic Research Institute, Second language learning by young children. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico.
Kovács, A. M., & Mehler, J. (2009). Cognitive gains in 7-month-old bilingual infants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(16), 6556–6560.
Keysar, B., Hayakawa, S. L., & An, S. (2011). The foreign-language effect: thinking in a foreign tongue reduces decision biases. Psychological Science, 23, 661–668. doi:10.1177/0956797611432178
Bilingualism opens up ways to connect with family, culture and communities. Sometimes these cultures and communities will be closely linked to the child’s own heritage, but even connecting with cultures and communities in which the child might live temporarily and building strong ties with people from their direct environment are crucial to a child’s developing identity.
Additionally, due to an affinity for communication gained from bilingualism, these children are more likely to make friends more quickly, a very important life skill and a key aspect of learning how to build lasting bonds with people from all walks of life.
Source: Baker, C. & Prys Jones, S. (1998), Encyclopedia of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education
Aside from direct improvements in learning and academic performance, being bilingual has added benefits to seemingly unrelated skills and cognitive ability. The ability to seamlessly switch between two or more languages results in very active and flexible brains (4). Additional benefits of bilingualism include:
Source:The Benefits of Being Bilingual, Bank Street College; retrieved 6 July 2014.
Every child is born with the ability to become a well adjusted individual with the ability to learn multiple languages. We simply guide them during that process, by ensuring that they receive the right education to prepare them for the wider world. The research, such as featured above, clearly outlines the cognitive, social and academic benefits of being a bilingual speaker, and the earlier we take that step, the bigger the benefits. Don’t be satisfied with less and enrol your child in our international daycare which provides bilingual education, and together we can take the first steps to becoming true global citizens.