Bilingual Approach in the Early Years

The benefits of a bilingual approach in the Early Years

What is a “Bilingual Approach”? 

The bilingual approach is known as the method where two languages are systematically used in student’s education in school. Student’s develop comprehensive abilities in both languages in terms of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

As Chinese plays an increasingly important role in international communication nowadays, a rising number of families have realized that the bilingual approach with Chinese and English will enable their children to have an incredible personal and professional advantage. Many studies show that applying a bilingual approach in early years gives many benefits.

Preschooler learning English

The golden time for learning a new language

Between the ages of 0-3 is the golden time to learn a new language. That is because young children’s brains are uniquely suited to learn a second language as the brain is in its most flexible stage. In fact, bilingually exposed infants excelled in detecting a switch in language as early as 6 months old. They can learn a second language as easy as they learned to walk and learn their primary language. 

Cognitive benefits

Children who are exposed to a bilingual environment are more competent than their monolingual peers at focusing on a task while tuning out disruption. Language abilities also play a vital impact on the development of arithmetic skills. In the early years, a bilingual approach undoubtedly enhances children’s early numeracy skills. 

Social-emotional benefits

Children who can speak more than one language make new friendships easier, through the ability to build rapport/ companionship by speaking a second language. People say that to learn a language is to learn a culture at the same time. The bilingual children can learn a new culture through language, hence, have respect and positive attitude about other cultures and groups. 

Long-term benefit

Globally, bilingual or even multilingual adults have more job opportunities than monolingual adults. Strong language skills will open a competitive advantage within the job market for children in the future. Mastering different languages is an asset for them. 

Bilingual learning at Mount Kelly Preschool

May 2020, written by Amanda Chen, Chinese Teacher at Mount Kelly International Preschool

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