Interested in the possibility/option of dual-language schooling for your children/students? Check out this terrific blog post regarding some of Houston ISD’s latest efforts.
Tutoring 101–like any good teaching and tutoring agency–has always understood the importance and promoted the learning of new languages for its students (hence why we keep tutors on staff who specialize in foreign languages). Learning a new language isn’t just about being able to better communicate with others in an increasingly more globalized world, but about learning how to see and think about things in new ways, how to better empathize and connect with others, and how to better appreciate the vast diversity of our world.
According to Duke University’s “Cognitive Benefits of Learning Languages,”
“Foreign language programs are often one of the first items to be scrutinized and cut when elementary, middle, and high schools in the U.S. face poor performance evaluations or budget crunches. However, many studies have demonstrated the benefits of second language learning not only on student’s linguistic abilities but on their cognitive and creative abilities as well.”
What’s more, in Ellen Bialystok’s 2011 article “Reshaping the Mind: The Benefits of Bilingualism,” published in the Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, Bialystok explains that: “Studies have shown that bilingual individuals consistently outperform their monolingual counterparts on tasks involving executive control,” and that there is even evidence that bilingualism can have a “protective effect…against Alzheimer’s disease….”
In other words, bilingualism and the learning of new languages carry benefits that may be as immediate as improved academic performance, but that may also be as long-reaching as helping people’s brains to simply keep healthier into their old age. And the evidence and consensus concerning these bi/multilingual benefits only continues to mount and show up in more and more publications. According to Anne Merritt (an EFL lecturer serving in South Korea) of The Telegraph, bilingualism and multilingualism can also help students improve their memory, strengthen their multitasking skills, and, for native English speakers, can even improve their English.
So, the question we ought to be asking ourselves isn’t: Why should I or my children/students learn new languages? But: Why not?
Just a teaser from the larger article:
“Like school systems across the nation, several local districts — including Houston, Alief, Clear Creek, Pasadena and Spring Branch — have expanded dual-language programs, as more parents want their children to grow up bilingual and studies generally show positive academic results.
Still, districts can face a series of challenges in starting such programs, including persuading anxious parents, recruiting enough bilingual teachers and ensuring effective instruction at a time when young children are ripe for learning languages but at risk of sliding behind their peers.”
Next, the kindergartner, Isabelle Kao, plotted 15 dominoes.
“Cual es más largo?” (which is longer?) her teacher, Graciela Martinez, asked. She gave the girl a hint, extending her arms wide.
Isabelle pointed correctly to the longer line — the sticks.
Martinez’s class at Mark Twain Elementary in southwest Houston is one of a growing number of two-way dual-language classrooms, where native English speakers like Isabelle and native Spanish speakers learn together.
Like school systems across the nation, several local districts — including Houston, Alief, Clear Creek, Pasadena and Spring Branch — have expanded dual-language programs, as more parents want their children to grow up bilingual and studies generally show positive academic results.
Still, districts can face…
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