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Bilingual education for children

Bilingual education for children

Teach a second language To children it is the goal of many parents to give a bilingual education to their children. To achieve this, it is essential that children remove the translation point and they can think directly in the language in which they are speaking.

Elvira Lopez, Director of Communication at Colegio Brains, clarifies the most frequent doubts that parents have about the bilingual education for children and its advantages.

What is bilingualism? What are its advantages in the education of children?
The Royal Spanish Academy defines the concept of Bilingualism as: “habitual use of two languages ​​in the same region or by the same person”.

This concept resultsrelatively abstract and it does not help parents to differentiate a bilingual education from one that is not. Theequilingualism It is the ability to use with full competence and no interference and in any situation,two different languages. This level represents Perfect Bilingualism (Halliday, Macintosh & Stevens).

What are the characteristics of an equilingual student?
Brains College has developed a English-Spanish equilingual competence system where students are immersed in absolute bilingualism. They live the two languages ​​as one, that is, they acquire a single linguistic system with two output channels: English and Spanish. Thus we find that an equilingual student:

- Think in English or Spanish indistinctly.

- He expresses himself in the language in which he thinks.

- It does not translate.

- Master your own phrases and set phrases of each language.

- Assimilate the cultural worldview of each of the two languages ​​and make selective use according to their needs and decisions.

From what age is it convenient to teach a second language to children?
To ensure that a student reaches an equilingual level, that is, perfect bilingualism, it is very important to take advantage of the stage of learning the mother tongue, that is, up to 5 years of age.

A young child learns naturally, does not translate, and can effortlessly and naturally internalize words and phonemes without much effort. It is vitally important that at these ages you are exposed to a pronunciation from a native teacher, since you will learn to speak a language by imitation.

What should be the strategy of parents who speak different languages ​​so as not to confuse the child?
In these cases, the child identifies the language speaker and respond consistently in their parent's language with all naturalness. The key is naturalness.

If in some moment the child mixes languages, parents should not scold him but rather the child should perceive that there are different ways of saying the same thing. For example, if at the supermarket your son tells you “Mommy, I want milk", A perfect answer would be:" Now we buy milk, don't worry. " In this way, the child will check that he has been understood and the mother will have taught her child to use the word milk in either of the two languages ​​as normal.

When introducing a second language into children's education, what should NOT be done?
The most important thing when introducing a second language in the education of children it is to monitor and prevent the establishment of a translation point. In addition, it is desirable that the child is exposed systematically and for the longest possible way to the new language. To follow these steps, Colegio Brains exposes its youngest students to English for 100 percent of their school day and they are always attended by two qualified teachers: a native-speaker and a bilingual teacher.

If the child lives with parents who speak different languages, what advice would you give them to choose a school for their child?
If the children live in a bilingual environment, Regardless of the language spoken at home, the best option would be to choose a bilingual school since it has developed a great facility to incorporate and learn any other language or to reinforce the mother tongue. It is a great advantage that parents should take advantage of, since it will be an added value for the child.

What can be done so that bilingualism does not delay a young child's speech development?
The most appropriate way to prevent the child's speech development from being delayed is to have addifferentiation of people that speak to you in each language. As we have commented, the child identifies the language with the interlocutor, so it is very easy for him to change the language register according to the interlocutor, be it his teacher or his parents. It is important that there is a differentiation of people and languages: if you speak with the mother in Spanish that you always remain in that language, and if you speak with the father in English that communication between them is maintained in this language.

How is teaching done and what can you expect from a bilingual school?
The organization of teaching in a bilingual school such as Colegio Brains is programmed taking advantage of the children's own abilities in each age and their communication skills. Up to 6 years, children follow a british model with an exposure to English for 100 percent of the day. In this way, the natural ability to learn the mother tongue is used to acquire a second language.

With the move to primary school, it is important divide the subjects into English and Spanish emphasizing that the learning of a second language is not to the detriment of the quality of learning or the amount of global content to be acquired. A father should expect his son to be bilingual when he graduates and can continue his studies in Spain or abroad. A bilingual school must guarantee the possibility for its students to have an international projection.

At home, how can parents encourage their children to learn a second language?
It is important to differentiate between parents who speak that second language and those who do not. If the parent is not a perfect connoisseur of the language or the pronunciation is not adequate, it is better to provide your child with audiovisual programs that allow the child to enter and navigate in that language.

The father may give his son a Emotional Support and monitoring of learning, but it will be counterproductive for him to take the lead if he is not bilingual. If the father is fluent in the language, it is as easy as always speaking to him in that language and developing recreational activities that allow him to learn while playing.

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