After months of juggling homeschooling duties amid a pandemic and then trying to keep kids healthy, happy, and engaged this summer, the back-to-school season is now upon us. Like most parents, you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect when your child’s school reopens. Or, perhaps, you would like your child to be challenged in new ways and are considering a new school altogether. One question that you might be asking yourself is this: What is an important skill for my child to develop if they are to be prepared for future success?
For many parents, the answer to this question is fluency in a second language, and Spanish is a popular choice. However, teaching your child Spanish may seem like a daunting task, especially if you do not speak the language yourself. If being bilingual is a goal in your family, one option to consider is a dual language program such as the one offered at St. John Vianney Catholic School.
At St. John Vianney, inspirational messages in both Spanish and English adorn the hallways. But is it truly possible to be fluent by sixth grade? Yes, it is! It requires patience, but it works. The program uses a 50-50 model known as two-way immersion. Students are assigned two teachers, a Spanish-speaking teacher and an English-speaking teacher, beginning with pre-K. Half of each instructional day is spent learning in English with one teacher and the other half spent learning in Spanish with another. This way, language learning happens in a “real life” context relating to the subject matter, not as an isolated or disjointed activity.
You may be wondering if there is value in starting so young. Or you might think, why not wait until high school or college? Studies have shown that it is easier for children to learn the younger they are. Pronunciation and grammar habits of the first language are less deeply ingrained, so new habits are easier to acquire. Also, younger children tend to be less inhibited about making mistakes when speaking a new language. Since the more hours spent learning a language leads to higher fluency, younger students have the benefit of time on their side by starting early.
There are other benefits as well. Consider the following:
Academic Benefits – Children in bilingual environments exhibit more cognitive flexibility, creative thinking, and problem-solving abilities when compared to monolingual students of the same age. They develop more focused attention because of the discipline required to switch between languages. Dual language instruction also increases a child’s ability to manipulate sounds, so they achieve reading readiness sooner.
Social Development – Learning another language helps to create open-minded children by fostering a greater understanding and appreciation for different cultures. It also improves a child’s social skills by enhancing their confidence in social interactions and increasing their self-esteem.
Greater Communication Skills – Studying the grammar and sentence structure of a second language improves a student’s understanding of their native tongue, helping them to communicate ideas more effectively. By understanding “how language works,” it becomes easier to learn a third or even fourth language. Language skills provide an advantage later in life when students enter the workforce, where being bilingual can lead to higher pay.
In today’s global society, speaking another language opens so many doors. It even makes traveling more enjoyable and offers additional opportunities to experience arts such as theater, music, and literature.
So, if you are wondering whether dual language learning is right for your child, consider the benefits! We invite you to learn more about St. John Vianney Catholic School at www.SJVS.org or call the number below and speak to a representative. Scholarships are still available for the 2020-2021 school year.
St. John Vianney Catholic School
Serving children from Pre-K4/VPK through eighth grade
6200 S. Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando, FL 32809
By Mariela Sierra