Friday, December 3, 2010

Bilingual Learning

I have been a terrible blogger here lately.  Things have been crazy in my head and in my life and I am hoping that even with Christmas literally right around the corner things will calm down at least a little bit. 

Emily Patterson a Communications Coordinator for Austin Child Care facilities e-mailed me around 2 weeks ago ( I am SO sorry Emily) and asked me if I would read an article she and a co-worker, Kathleen Thomas, wrote and talk about it on my blog.  I said I would look over it and if it seemed like something I felt my readers would benefit from then I would for sure talk about it on the blog.  Well, I read it and I thought it was a topic you all would enjoy so I told her I would.  That was 2 WEEKS AGO and I am just now having the time or mental capacity to actually write about it. 

The basis of the article is when is the best time to start teaching your child a second language.  Is it even something you should do? 
Emily goes on to say that the idea of being bilingual or even mulitlingual is becoming a crucial part of our lives these days.  Most of the time children start out learning a second lanuage in elementary school and on up.  Her argument is why not teach them when they are most capable of learning a second language and having it "stick"?  Emily & Kathleen have researched and studies have shown that the "optimal period in a child's life for multilingual education is during the preschool years".  The article stresses that teaching children a second language the same time they are learning their primary language will not interfere with the learning of the primary language. 
Emily & Kathleen have some suggestions about how to introduce different languages to your children.  They suggest having a theme night with different foods and music from the country of the language you want to teach them.  Sharing the different traditions from that particular country is also a way to get them excited about learning.  Children always seem to like learning about how other kids do things. 

Honestly, before I had Teagan I was that awful person who said if people are going to move into the United States they should learn English.  While I still believe that to be so I also recognize the idea of having the option of open communication.  What if Teagan meets a friend at school who speaks a different language say at home and Teagan gets curious and wants to learn more about that language?  Who am I to stop her from learning? 
Also, with today's economy the people who can speak more then one language efficiently are those who are getting put at the top of the interview list. 
I can speak personally that with my job it would be much easier on me if I could speak another language or two.  I'm anxious to learn another one but being an adult and trying to learn another language is SO VERY HARD.  Which just shows you that there really is a window of oppurtunity so why not utilize it? 

What do you guys think? Do you want your kids to learn another language?  Are you going to be open to showing them how different cultures do things differently?  I think Christmas time is a good time to do this.  Showing our kids how different children have or see Christmas is a perfect time to introduce them to other cultures. 

Thanks Emily & Kathleen for the great article and sorry for the delay in posting!

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