The advantages of being bilingual include wider communication within the community, a deeper sense of multiculturalism, greater tolerance for and understanding of others, increased educational achievements, and future employment benefits.
Every parent faces various uncertainties when deciding what is best for their child. Education is, of course, one of the major concerns. What school is best? Which program will suit my child better? When should a second language be introduced and how? Keeping in mind, the world is changing so quickly that promoting the ability for creative thinking and promoting cultural adaptability is essential. “We don't have a clue about what the world will be like in the future” as Sir Ken Robinson said in one of his conferences on creativity and education.
Thousands of children all over the world are bilingual, there is no evidence of a language delay or disorder proven to be caused by bilingual exposure, on the contrary, research states that learning a second language at an early age makes special and more complex neural networks and connections between both hemispheres. It also trains the phonological system, gestures, and sounds in children’s mouth, to make the phonetic sounds unique to each language; skills that becomes more difficult to master later on.
Research has shown that positive cognitive gains are associated with learning a second language in childhood (Bialystok 1991). Children exposed to a bilingual education learn to explore language better, become more creative and improve their problem-solving skills not to mention all the social advantages that a child can have when being able to communicate in a multilingual environment. For children it is simple, they discover there is more than one way to express themselves, more than one way to solve a problem and more than one way people can understand each other.
But children do not just “absorb” a language: The environment, support and the teaching strategies used will determine the quality and proficiency of the language acquired. School, curriculum, teachers and families need to work together so children will “get to think” in both languages.
Edu1st’s progressive preschool’s offer children great opportunities. We offer youngsters a warm, challenging environment and a high-quality curriculum with an emphasis on bilingual education.
Their program offers various characteristics parents need to look for in a bilingual preschool:
- Preschools need to have a friendly atmosphere where each child will feel secure, loved and happy. Where families are welcome at any time and are encourage to becoming active participants in their child’s education.
- Preschools must have a hand crafted comprehensive curriculum that contemplates the developmental needs of each child and that will allow teachers to challenge each of them to their maximum potential while promoting their creativity.
- Preschools’ curriculum needs to reflect the understanding that there is not just one way of learning, therefore, there is not just one way of teaching. A variety of pedagogical strategies needs to be used on a daily basis in each classroom.
- Teachers must have a degree in Early Childhood Education or related fields; this will guarantee the quality of the approach to specific needs a child may have during the year.
- Teachers need to be trained on strategies to work with multicultural and multilingual children and families and they need to keep a culture of constant professional development.
- Preschools need to have a well-equipped environment so children can find a variety of challenges in science, language, geography, history, music, art, math, physical development etc.
- Parents need to see evidence of a variety of life experiences offered in the preschool.
Children learn by doing, exploring, observing, copying, questioning, answering, making hypothesis and verifying them and by being exposed to infinite experiences that will challenge their development. The bilingual environment will challenge their mind beyond allowing them to acquire new vocabulary and encouraging them to start thinking in their new language while learning and having lots of fun.
Of course, the benefits of a bilingual education extend far beyond the classroom. The advantages of being bilingual include wider communication within the community, a deeper sense of multiculturalism, greater tolerance for and understanding of others, increased educational achievements, and future employment benefits.
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