Friday, August 1, 2014

Foreign Language for Preschoolers

Foreign Language for Preschoolers

In short terms: beneficial for cognitive development, memory and concentration, important and necessary in the 21st century,  fun, natural for this stage in life, is usually not available or affordable.

The window of opportunity

The ability to speak a second language comes handy, and sometimes necessary in any professional field. As the process of globalization continues, I can imagine the importance of a foreign language will increase significantly. At the beginning of my child's preschool I keep asking myself:
Will she need a foreign language in her life?
Which language would it be?
How much time, money, and effort should we spend on it considering her speech delay and so many other things that interest her and occupy her time?
Is it realistic for us to accomplish with my husband opposing Camilla learning a second language?  
 

Motivation is the key in the long process of a language acquisition. A child has to stay motivated to use the second language; and not less importantly, parents need all the inspiration in the world to invest time and money in their child's learning a foreign language.

That's why I keep this inspiring book close by and have decided to write another post on it. "Bilingual is better" by Roxana Soto and Ana Flores provides excellent support and gives me some great tips in our bilingual journey. You can read my previous post, as well as find related posts here:
Cultural heritage and languages.

What is a window of opportunity for learning a foreign language? Scientists agree that the best age is 0-9 years old. The growing brain is like a sponge that absorbs all the sounds, words, and grammatical structures effortlessly and naturally. "This book comes at the perfect time to open up the conversation about the type of education we want for our children, how we can educate them, how we intend to broaden our horizons even if it means an extra effort for us as parents" (p. 17) - the authors of "Bilingual is better" explain.

The effects of foreign language on brain functioning, memory, problem-solving, creativity, and concentration.

The recent break-through discoveries in the field of neuroscience led to many research studies on the effects of the second language on brain functions. The results are fascinating!  Researches report significantly efficient brain functioning, enhanced language skills in a native language, memory, problem-solving skills, creativity, and concentration. Bilingual kids had higher SAT scores, which is nice. But how about quicker thinking and better decisions made as an adult?

In their book, Soto and Flores have described some of the studies to show that "bilingualism is better for your brain" (p. 68).

Which language to choose as a second language? The book is written from "two Latina Moms" perspective. If your choice is Spanish, you could find a lot of historical facts and modern views on the role of Spanish in America. Some other popular languages are German, French, Chinese, Russian, Italian. I guess, when considering a choice of a language, many factors are in the picture: parents' ability to speak a second language, cultural heritage, the resources available locally at a time, the popularity of any given language.

Challenges in learning a second language.

I think it is very sad that kids are about 14 years old when they start on a foreign language! This is way too late for the brain to start. That's why so many of us fear a foreign language! I asked my son's friends when they were 16-17 about their experience with a foreign language in high school. The responses were: "The most difficult subject I've ever had", "I hate it", "This is the only one subject I could never get a good grade at no matter how hard I tried", and so on.

That's why I've decided to offer a second language for my daughter. Doesn't matter which level we'd accomplish. At least, she'll get the experience that will help her at school and her future life. Of course, it is all about finding the resources and opportunities to speak a foreign language. The authors of "Bilingual is better" name dual immersion program at school as the first option in learning a foreign language, as well as offer many more tips on finding the learning resources.


There are many discussions available on the topic. I found this post by All Done Monkey very helpful and inspirational: Leanna: "Raising bilingual kids is a learning process".

As for the book featured here: "Just think about it, they have no idea of the gift you are giving them and of the incredible ways it will manifest as benefits in their lives, and the best part is they can't even complain or argue against it... yet." (p. 116).

What are your thoughts? Please, leave a comment - I'd be very interested to read any views and opinions!

It's my pleasure to join these great co-hosts of "Mama's Best Parenting Books" project. Please, be sure to come and check out the best parenting books of their choice!
The Explosive Child (B-Inspired Mama)
Wiring Kids for Success in Life (Trilingual Mama)
The Contented Toddler Years + Routines: The Contented Little Me Says 'Why' (Words n Needles)
Discipline Without Distress (One Time Through)
Mom's House, Dad's House + Parenting Through Divorce (Lemon Lime Adventures)
Positive Discipline A-Z + 5 Tips for Positive Discipline Parenting (Look! We're Learning!)
Real Boys (The Jenny Evolution)
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids (Dirt & Boogers)
Smart Parenting for Smart Kids (Planet Smarty Pants)
Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World - A Parenting Book About Teaching Kids to Serve (This Reading Mama)
Foreign Language for Preschoolers (Camilla and Roman)
Awakening Children's Minds and Raising the Emotionally Intelligent Child - Emotionally Intelligent Parenting (Line Upon Line Learning)
Potty Train in a Weekend (Words n Needles)
The Out-of-Sync Child - The Ultimate Sensory Processing Disorder Resource (Sensory Activities for Kids)
12 More Books for Moms (Teach Beside Me)