Do you remember learning to speak your native language? Of course not, and that’s because the skill is nurtured almost from the moment we’re born.
Between 0-3 years, the human brain is at its most flexible, absorbing everything it encounters and creating neural networks at lightning speed. From around 6 months, infants can recognise and detect a switch in language. This means that efforts made to introduce bilingual education at the earliest stage has multiple benefits and positive repercussions throughout the child’s life.
7 advantages of a bilingual education
- Boost cognitive function: The preschool years are when the human brain is advancing at its fastest rate. Learning a second language at this point in life isn’t only easy to do, it boosts the building of motor skills, speech development, sensory perception, critical thinking and problem-solving.
- Gives a head start in education: Multiple research studies show that children who’re introduced to a second language at an early stage show improved success during later education. They regularly achieve higher test results, have better reading and writing skills and a generally higher standard of academic achievement.
- Benefit from higher cognitive flexibility: Learning two languages means that every time the child attempts to communicate, they need to select which to use. This requires a positive effort to suppress one and vocalise using the other. Doing so helps develop the skills to deal with internal conflict and nurtures the ability to focus on a single thing.
- Boosts confidence: Learning a language later in life comes with many competing emotions. Fears of embarrassment, getting it wrong, or that others might not understand our efforts are just some of the obstructions that prevent fluid learning. A toddler has no such baggage. They simply absorb words, accents, intonations, sentence structure etc without being encumbered by perceived and learned stumbling blocks.
- Improved vocabulary: Children with dual language skills will instinctively compare and contrast between the two. This leads to a greater grasp of their native language and a wider discovery of words and phrases that they can introduce into everyday speech and thoughts.
- Develop a natural-sounding accent: Embracing a second language during formative years leads to better vocalisation of words and sentences that are more in tune with the native tongue. This is down to children naturally mimicking the sounds they hear. From tone to pronunciation, children pick up on the smallest nuances when learning a language at such an early age.
- Enhanced career opportunities: In an ever more diverse world, fluency in a second language can open doors, not only to additional employment opportunities but to higher wages, promotions and other benefits once the child grows and enters the work environment.
Learning a second language as the earliest opportunity isn’t only possible, it’s the best time of life to do so. Only during these first precious years is the brain this absorbent, where learning happens virtually without trying.
The benefits of being bilingual are lifelong, reaching into almost every aspect of a person’s future possibilities.
At Nido Early School we champion the provision of the ultimate in early childhood education. From nurturing second language speakers to embracing the world-renowned Reggio Emilia teaching structure, parents and caregivers can rest assured that children in Nido’s care benefit from the ultimate in pre-school education.
Discover more at https://nido.edu.au/