Does bilingual education work for children?

Bilingual education for children 

Are you considering foreign language lessons for your children? Do you wonder if a bilingual education is sensible?

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Yes, it is! I see the great results of a bilingual education every day in my job. However, what factors play the most important role when it comes to learning a second language?

Firstly it is essential that the language taught has some sort of meaning to the child. This doesn’t mean that you have to speak it yourself!  For example, my students love to talk to each other in German. Just recently one of the younger ones told me that she will teach her best friend some German! This is a good example for a positive connection between the second language and the learner.

In bilingual education consistency plays an important role. It is essential  that your children have lessons on a regular basis and are spoken to in their second language as much as possible. This is when the bond between teacher and student comes also into play. Learning pressure does not help children to acquire a second language. Every child is different and has different needs! That means that language classes need to be adapted to the students. 

Think about the future

When children are exposed to foreign languages at an early age it can also create future interest in languages. Children who grow up in an bilingual environment or take lessons will have a better ‘feel’ for foreign languages in general. Young language learners notice the different sound of other languages as they have a greater awareness. 

It is often said that learning two languages simultaneously leads to the fact that neither of the two languages will be spoken well. That is a very false assumption! Children have the potential to acquire more than one language from birth. Every child makes linguistic mistakes and that is not bad at all. Foreign language lesson can have a positive effect on the whole development of the child as it also teaches about another culture.

Challenges for the child only occur in unfavorable circumstances, for example because of a very negative environment or when children are told that they are not doing well enough.

What is important?

 Children are very economical with their languages, therefore it is essential that the language learning experience is frequent and fun. Create an environment in which the child feels comfortable to speak a second language. (If possible) send your child to regular language lesson where he/she can converse with other speakers of the same age group. 

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