A New Perspective on Foreign Language Education

Linguistic insights for parents and teachers

Choosing a final project…

on September 29, 2013

I’ve come to the conclusion that no blog or project that I create is going to change the U.S. Foreign Language Education system. Nothing I research this semester is going to be so ground-breaking or insightful that the Georgia Department of Education is going to leave a comment like, “Great idea, Allyson! We’ll try that out.”  So instead, I’m going to switch directions slightly and aim my efforts towards parents. If I can empower parents with the information and resources necessary to raise their child bilingually, we may be able to start something. After all, they are the primary influences on their baby, especially during the first few years of life; they can be – have to be – the first step in exposing their child to a second language. My goal is to see educated parents lobbying for better foreign language education programs that will compliment the foundation that has been provided at home.

language baby

Part of my 20% project for this class includes creating a product or resource based on what I’m researching. Right now, I am leaning towards creating a video or online pamphlet targeted towards parents. Speech Language Pathologists often make a list of “mile stones” that parents should aim for as the child develops his or her language abilities. But what if we included second-language milestones as well? What if we presented this information as if learning a second language was a necessary part of development and not just a perk for a select group of babies.

Things to address in my resource:

  1. Why should parents raise their child bilingually?
  2. How does timing play a role in second-language acquisition?
  3. What milestones are should a parents aim for?
  4. What resources and technologies are available to create a pseudo-language immersion is experience for very young children?
  5. Which languages should parents choose to expose their babies to?
  6. What should parents look for in a bilingual pre-k or elementary school language program?

4 langs

Right now, I am considering creating either a website or a Padlet board for my final resources. Both options would provide me a way to share many resources, hopefully organized by the questions I’ve listen above. I may create more questions as I continue my research. I definitely want to create a short video that addresses the first question of why bilingualism is so beneficial. For today’s blog post, I will briefly discuss my research about bilingualism.

Many articles mentioned the cognitive benefit of a bilingual mind. It seems that the subconscious process of switching between two languages based on the environment or task at hand actually prepares the speaker to handle other multitasking situations. Bilingual speakers are also better at perceiving relevant speech among lots of noise.

In a variety of studies, bilingual people have been found to be more creative. This may be related to the variety of tools that have to express an idea. For example, if a bilingual person wants to say that a person is beautiful but in a humble and subtly way, they may be at a loss trying to find a word for this exact concept in English. But perhaps in another language, there exists such a word to embody this idea. Having to languages not only enables a speaker to express his or her thoughts more precisely, but it also provides avenues for thinking those thoughts in the first place.

For more information about why raising a child bilingually is a good idea, check out this article called Myths of Raising a Bilingual Child from Rasmussen College.  And, check back to my blog for more answers about how parents can realistically raise a child to speak two languages.

One response to “Choosing a final project…

  1. Thank you very much for referring to my post. I’m a multilingual mom (and grew up bilingual: Italian and German) and am raising my kids multilingually (English, German, Dutch, Italian) and can only tell about the benefits of multilingualism. I know that it depends very much on where you grow up, if in a monolingual environment, a monolingual but multilingual friendly (!) environment or a multilingual environment. I would love to discuss this and am looking forward to read more about this here.

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