“¿Buenos días cómo estás?” This can be heard ringing through the hall outside of a Spanish Immersion Preschool Program that takes place at my school. Of course, hearing a group of three-year-olds learning how to speak Spanish, with sweet, crackly voices, is beyond precious to hear. The effects of a dual language program not only benefit children at the moment, but the skills they learn will continue to aid them in their academic development until later in life.
According to Dr. Naja Ferjan Ramirez, a Research Scientist at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington:
“Babies are born with the potential to speak any language. But at 12 months, the infant’s brain has begun to specialize and focus on the sounds of the primary language(s) she hears. One of the best ways to impart another language, especially if it’s not already spoken in the home, is language-immersion learning. When they have direct access to native speakers and use a language in the context of social cues, young learners are most likely to be impacted long-term by the language.”
Here are some of the amazing benefits that an immersion program offers:
- According to Dr. Perri Klass, bilinguals have a heightened ability over monolinguals to monitor their immediate environment and keep track of what’s going on more efficiently.
- A bilingual child’s ability to operate in two languages strengthens mental flexibility, self-control/self-regulation, and the ease of switching between mental tasks.
- Children that are raised/learn in a bilingual environment show higher levels of empathy. This is due to the fact that they are constantly evaluating and reading situations and people when deciding which language to speak in.
If this sounds exciting to you, but you’re not sure if you want to take the plunge into a full immersion program, you can always wet your feet! Dearest educators can bring fun language immersion experiences to your home. You can also use the classes to host playdates with friends during Summer holidays or weekends!
No matter which option you choose, your child will surely reap the benefits of a diverse education!