Early English exposure prepares Spanish-speaking children for academic success
As an English teacher I have taken special interest in using strategies that will facilitate learning English to the students considering that this is not their native language , however it must be learned as if it were; naturally and confidently. My interest has also been focused on the importance and support that parents should give to their children through this process I am respectfully sharing with you today a research from the University of Missouri-Columbia and excerpt from a lecture given by Irene Fafalios at the Montessori Society AGM in London: The researches have found that family members and teachers can play different roles in shaping Spanish-speaking children's school readiness and English skills that are all vital to children's academic success. "Identifying the best ways to support Spanish-speaking children's learning of English at home and at preschool can diminish language barriers in the classroom early and can help start these students on the pathway to academic success." "Preschool is an ideal setting to study how ELL children learn language because learning in preschool occurs mainly through social interactions, and languages are learned naturally by engaging in social interactions," "Teachers should support children's native languages and encourage activities in the classroom that allow children to interact using English." The first thing we need to convey to parents, is that bilingualism is not a pathology – it actually seems to do you good! So long as a supportive environment affirms a child’s identity, then research indicates that bilingualism can positively affect both intellectual and linguistic progress, and that there are distinct cognitive, communicative and cultural advantages to having access to two linguistic systems. It seems that bilingual children show a greater sensitivity to linguistic meanings, may be more flexible in their thinking and show greater analytical and problem solving skills. This conceptual development in two languages allows the transference of academic skills across two languages, and enables young children to acquire an awareness of the structure and function of language itself. According to these facts, I have always encouraged, parents to invest time in sustaining an equally strong and rich linguistic environment in terms of songs, stories, riddles, tales, jokes and tapes at home. It is important that the child receives the same type and degree of linguistic stimulation in both languages, where possible. Above all, however, it is important that the family enjoys its bilingualism. A bilingual family is nothing special and is increasingly less of a phenomenon. A child should see it as a natural part of his family life. It is then far more likely that children will grow up enjoying being bilingual and that both languages will be kept active.
By Teacher Teresa Vergara
Bachelor of Languages