This generation of K-12 students is growing up in a society that is increasingly bilingual. While foreign language requirements have long been a core requirement for high school graduation—second language classes at an earlier age would improve overall fluency for most students.
It’s time to introduce second-language concepts to the youngest of K-12 students, and here are just a few of the reasons why:
1. Bilingual Children have an Academic Advantage. Studies in language development show that when young children have more exposure to all languages at an early age, it actually gives them a distinct academic advantage throughout life. There is often an argument that students should first master the English language before branching out to others – but why can’t both be taught simultaneously? Bilingual children are able to focus more intently on the topics at hand and avoid distractions from academic pursuits. They are also able to demonstrate higher levels of cognitive flexibility, or the ability to change responses based on environment and circumstances.
2. Bilingualism Improves Life-Long Learning Skills. For children to truly see the full potential multi-lingualism has on learning, exposure to non-native languages should actually begin long before Kindergarten. However, even children who learn their first Spanish words at the age of 5 can benefit from dual language curriculum. Learning is learning. The more that children can take advantage of new concepts, the more in tune their brains will be to all learning throughout life. Some studies have also found that the aging of the brain is slower and the employment rate is higher in adults with bilingual capabilities. Why not set kids up for success and strengthen long-term brain health while we are at it?
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