Studies have shown that the early you introduce a child to a foreign language, the better off they will be. When introducing a child to a foreign language, doing so before age 10 is ideal and doing so before the age of five is even better.
When it comes to children and language acquisition, one of the best ways to help a child is through dual language immersion programs. In recent years, they have become very popular and nearly 40 U.S. states offer classes to students. In the United States, just 17% of Americans speak a second language and in many cases, students aren’t introduced to foreign language classes into high school.
As the world and how humans interact with one another, waiting until high school to take Spanish classes or French classes can put Americans at a disadvantage. That’s why introducing young children to dual language immersion programs is important as it will give them a leg up later in life.
Benefits of dual language immersion programs include:
- Cognitive dexterity and better problem-solving skills: As anyone learning a language knows, it can be very difficult. At the same time, it can also be very rewarding, Studies indicate that learning another language lead to increased brain density and better cognitive skills. With better cognitive skills, students will have better working memory, increased attention and better problem-solving skills. As students progress with their studies—and not just with language—these skills will be invaluable. Learning a second language can be a nice feather in the cap when it comes time to apply to college too.
- Embracing diversity: Learning new languages through dual language immersion programs is about more than just learning vocabulary words and how to conjugate verbs. It also helps to give students an understanding of the culture that surrounds the language they’re learning. More than just words, students will learn about food, about society and about the history of the country whose language they are learning to speak. Teaching kids about cultural awareness will help them understand the world around them better and help them understand their world is a lot bigger than what they know from their everyday routine.
- Better communication: Dual language immersion programs not only teach children to speak another language, they also help them to improve their overall communication skills. By studying the ins-and-outs of another language, they will better understand how all languages work and will learn how to express themselves better. Language acquisition can also help bolster confidence when it comes to public speaking.
- Improved self-identity: Language is at the very core of who we are as people. It allows to communicate with friends and family and helps tie us together as part of our culture. By enrolling in a dual language immersion program, a student not only picks up another language, but they also gain a stronger sense of their native language.
- Learning in new ways:Dual language immersion programs also allow children to learn by very different methods than what might be used traditionally in schools. These programs allow children to learn a second language while also learning other subjects, rather than just trying to learn the language in small increments. By combining language acquisition with other subjects, learning the new language becomes more important and student are more likely to become motivated and invested in their studies.
Starting your child on a homeschool Spanish curriculum or signing them up for preschool Spanish lessons can help give your child a great start on learning a second language. But dual language immersion programs go deeper and allow students to learn more than just basic vocabulary at a young age. Dual language immersion programs allow students to learn a new language while developing important cognitive skills and learning about the culture and roots of the language they are speaking. The new ways of learning used in these programs allow children to gain self-confidence and a stronger identity with their native language in addition to better understanding the world around them as they learn a second language.