Monday, December 9, 2013

5 Myths About Bilingual/Dual Language Education for Children

Dual Language Classroom- Hoboken, NJ (2013)
For all the advantages they have bilingual kids—or their parents perhaps—must contend with a lot of myths about their ability to speak two or more languages. One-language-only speakers create myths and tell untruths about bilingual kids and spread them wide, as if they were forest fires, to members of the group. In general, there are five myths, false notions, they have honed in order to undermine the benefits of raising bilingual kids. The following summary is based on research and was summarized very well by Delfin Carbonell Basset. 

  1. A bilingual kid’s brain will get confused with so many different words in different languages. The learning of two tongues from the onset will delay a child’s communication skills. Nonesense. We know that language input starts from the very day the person is born, and the brain, given its plasticity, will adapt to whatever it is exposed to. The more stimuli the better for the mind, and children can tell the difference from one language to another very soon. No confusion ever.
  2. A bilingual kid’s cognitive development will be affected. Many studies show the contrary effect, and it stands to reason because two-language children have the advantage over one-language children, who have only one communication tool and thus less stimulus for neuronal development. This misconception has deprived millions in the United States of the blessings of two-language education.
  1. A child must start being bilingual from day one or else she won’t make it. Of course this is the best under perfect conditions but perfect conditions and situations are few and far between, as we all know. It is never too late to expose a child to another language. The possibilities of the brain acquiring speech are still unknown but they are boundless. It is never too late for any one, at any age, to learn another language. In fact, the older you are, the more cognitive benefits, to the point that many health care professionals urge elderly people to study another language in order to keep mentally fit and alert.
  2. Some children refuse to learn two languages and they stick to one. And some children refuse to eat vegetables and fish and prefer chocolate. This possible situation does occur and this is where the parents’ and teachers’ strong wills come into play. They must stick to their plan come wind or high water, and use the two languages no matter what.
  3. The United States is a one-language country. Many languages are spoken in this country and many people do not speak English. There are millions of people who are bilingual, completely or to some degree. The United States has now the possibility of becoming bilingual in English and Spanish and those who speak both owe it to their children to expose them to those languages, or at least try to.

    Additional information for young children can be viewed by clicking HERE

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