Early Bilingual Learning: Is It Necessary?
Jul 23, 2016 Young Learners 3903 Views
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Spanish is the most common second language in the world and the most popular language taught in the United States schools. One reason it seems Spanish is the most popular second language, is over 20 countries claim it as their first language and over 400 million people speak it. More people on earth today speak two or more languages. With numbers like that it seems we all should learn a little bit of this popular language.
In high school I spent time in France after completing my required classes in French. Once I returned home I rarely ever spoke it again. I regret that I have lost that language. My son does attend preschool Spanish, but I will push to keep him exposed to the Spanish culture and language as he gets older so that doesn't happen to him.
Improving Cognitive Development
That is a group of words we all like to see when speaking our children's education. Research shows that it is best to start a child in Spanish or any type of language class at age 3. This is the time of their language development when they are learning new vocabulary, proper grammar and pronunciations in their first language.
Simply adding in Spanish vocabulary, grammar and pronunciations will not be as overwhelming as an adult trying to figure out how to speak something completely foreign to them. Plus, these two languages are rooted in Latin and can aid each other in the process of language acquisition.
I have friends who work in numerous countries all over the world which has required them to become bilingual to simply conduct business with the people of the area. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for your job to send you to a non English speaking country and expect you to do business.
This sounds like an intimidating situation which will require a lot of late night cram sessions of a particular language. We live in a multicultural and multiple language world today. Often the requirement to learn a second language for your career may not take you out of this country. All business is becoming international and it is extremely important we can all communicate.
Knowing all of this makes it a little more important for our kids to become bilingual. Not only will it give our kids the edge academically, but it is more desirable for an employer to hire someone that speaks the language of their international companies.
I spoke earlier about how I took French lessons and spent time in France. The complete immersion of the language was the true test of my understanding of the language. My friend and I lived in a house with people who spoke not a word of English nor did they have any desire to learn it. We studied harder than we ever thought possible to learn how to speak to our house parents, read the subway line, order in restaurants and participate in school. It would have been extremely beneficial to meet someone who spoke both languages and understand the culture.
There are different types of Spanish speaking cultures to learn about in this world along with the language. Traveling to Spanish speaking countries and understanding the culture will make any trip the ultimate experience!
For a period of time I was an ESOL (English as a second language) classroom teacher. This meant part my class was native English speakers and the rest was native Spanish speakers. All of my little first graders had an entire year of culture appreciation and learning to be patient with one another. They learned about holidays which they both celebrated and holidays they did not have in common. When certain Spanish speaking students would get tired of finding the correct English words they would speak in Spanish.
Throughout the year I would see all my students grow by learning about each other and helping each other with language development. Children can be the best teachers in situations like these due to the lack of pressure from other kids. They can always figure out how to communicate especially when it's something they love, like recess!
Starting Spanish lessons at an early age allows your child to grow in so many ways. Grasping an understanding of the language and culture allows kids to grow into a much more diverse individual.
Continuing Spanish education seems to be the key. The education can continue through classes, but also immersion of the language through travel is great! It would be nice to take yearly trips to Spain to speak the language and interact with the culture. Often, due to finances or simply lack of time, we can not do that! Instead interact with Spanish speakers in your community.