New research in language learning is uncovering a multitude of benefits enjoyed by children involved in bilingual education systems. With the growth of two-way immersion bilingual language programs, children from both bilingual and monolingual backgrounds can enjoy the many advantages that come with speaking and writing in two or more languages. The American Council of Teaching Foreign Language affirms that learning a second or third language supports higher academic achievement and increases problem solving ability in children and adolescents. By encouraging young brains to pay attention to language and choose between different syntactical and grammatical structures when switching between languages, bilingual learning increases executive function and self-efficacy.
While a two-way immersion program may not be accessible for some families, there are many ways to engage in language learning both in and out of a classroom setting. Most schools teach second-language classes to students as a matter of course. Support your child’s learning by continuing this education at home. Public libraries offer access to bilingual picture dictionaries or easy chapter books in a variety of languages. Self-directed learning resources, like Brainscape, a flashcard-based learning model, can be effective tools for increasing bilingual educational opportunities.
The internet contains a wealth of options for parents looking to boost their child’s ability to speak or write a second language. Click to read websites and smart phone apps are often formatted as simple games or tasks to make them more engaging for younger children. Online streaming sites offer varied content in different languages. Creating a bilingual immersive experience for your children through technology helps youngsters connect to the material that is often presented through a multi-sensory experience of sights, sounds, and actions. Use online community message boards or forums to bring that experience into the physical world by connecting with language groups in your community.
Giving your child the gift of a bilingual education prepares them for success later in life. Bilingual candidates are often preferred for jobs, and children who learn a second language are more empathetic and curious about cultures and experiences that differ from their own. Being bilingual can even protect people from cognitive losses later in life due to dementia and aging. Whether you choose to enroll your child in a two-way immersion program, or support their education at home through books and online resources, a bilingual experience will offer them a better chance at academic and interpersonal success.