In recent years, language immersion schools have become quite popular in the United States. With the promise of offering children advanced language and literacy skills, many parents have welcomed this way of learning and for good reason.
A language immersion school is an institute that offers an educational program taught in (at least) two languages, a minority language and a majority language. A minority language is one that is not spoken by the majority of people in a particular country or region, and the majority language is the language spoken by the majority of people in the area.
The core characteristics of a language immersion school are as follows:
● Teachers are fully proficient in the language(s) they use for instruction
● Support for the majority language is strong and present in the school community at large
● Clear and sustained separation of languages occur during instructional time
These characteristics ensure additive bilingualism or multilingualism is achieved where the student can both speak and understand two or more languages.
Knowing more than one language is key to opening more doors for your child as they get older. In fact, the best time to do so is before the age of seven. According to Patricia Kuhl, Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences and co-director of the Institute of Learning & Brain Sciences at Washington University, children in this age range begin to master sounds in their language as well as distinguish sounds that are used in other languages. Ultimately, making them citizens of the world.
Language immersion schools help with just that as well as provide the following benefits.
Researchers have shown that the brain of bilingual individuals have better executive function. This allows for a stronger focus on problem solving, the ability to move easily between tasks, and better recall of words and information.
In fact, according to a study conducted by Arturo E. Hernandez, Professor and Director of Laboratory for the Neural Bases of Bilingualism Development, Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of San Diego, bilingual adolescents proved to have better auditory attention, cognitive control and sensory processes than their monolingual counterparts. He learned this by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see which areas of the brain would be active while playing the syllable “da” in the presence of background noise. This ultimately enabled them to perform better on tasks requiring mental manipulation.
Additionally, with increased sensitivity to others, bilingual and multilingual individuals are better able to understand the needs of others and respond appropriately. They also tend to be more respectful of differences between people and cultures.
A concern for many parents is that math and science are subjects that may be difficult to learn in a minority language. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Researchers have shown that being bilingual can enhance one’s ability to focus as well as study better.
According to a study conducted by Swedish researchers, MRI results of two groups of scholars (monolingual and bilingual) showed that those who were bilingual had larger brains which were attributed to a higher concentration of gray matter. This gray matter is believed to be linked to greater intelligence (managing memories, planning, reasoning, and solving problems).
In terms of math and science, these factors set the stage for success in a child’s educational career. Language is an inseparable part of these subjects. For example, one of the first lessons parents teach their children is how to count. From there, children can easily learn the basics of elementary school arithmetic.
As many businesses transition to operating on an international level, they seek employees who speak multiple languages and who exhibit cultural sensitivity. Because of this, children who fulfill their educational career through an immersion school will have access to a wider range of national and international jobs compared to those who were enrolled in English-only programs.
At Centner Academy, we want to ensure that your child reaches their full potential by taking complete advantage of our language immersion program. Learn more about our school today.
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