Having grown up in a in a dual language household, I understand the importance of learning languages at a young age. When I found out last week that the FLES program (Foreign Language in Elementary School) program was going to be cut from the school budget, I had to spring into action. Two other moms and I started a grass roots online petition campaign through change.org to see if we could save the program. After 5 days, we were able to gather 500+ signatures from residents within our district to have our voices heard. It goes along with my motto of “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” All the Board of Education can say is no, but if you don’t ask you will never know if your efforts could have saved this very important foreign language program in your school district. We are hoping for the best.
OK, but let’s get back to the importance of learning a foreign language at an early age. Source:www.thelanguagelinkllc.com
Young brains are hard wired to acquire language. Research has shown that young children have a unique ability to absorb a second language naturally. Experts estimate that by age 8-12, humans already begin to lose the ability to hear and say new sounds. Taking advantage of the window of opportunity that exists between birth and adolescence allows a child to optimize his or her learning potential, and speak the second language with a native accent and absorb grammatical structure naturally. In addition, studies show that young children who learn a second language enjoy many additional cognitive benefits:
- They do significantly better at tasks requiring divergent thinking, problem solving, and figural creativity (Landry, 1974);
- They score higher on standardized tests in language arts, reading, and math than students not enrolled in foreign language programs (Rafferty, 1986; Garfinkel and Tabor, 1991);
- They score higher on the SAT and ACT than students not enrolled in foreign language programs (Cooper, 1987; Olsen and Brown, 1989);
- They have the ability to excel in the pronunciation of a foreign language (Dulay, Burt, and Krashen, 1982);
- They show greater cognitive development in higher order thinking skills (Foster and Reeves, 1989);
- They are more open to cultural diversity (Carpenter and Torney, 1974; Hancock and Lipton et al., 1976); and
- They have an improved self-concept and sense of achievement (Masciantonio, 1977).
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