Sometimes I forget that English is not my friend Andrea’s first language. If you listen carefully enough you can sometimes catch a wisp of her slight lisp or pick up on the way she orders her words oddly in a sentence. But usually she rattles off conversation in perfect English with no hint of an accent. You see, Andrea grew up in Munster, Germany where all students are taught English from primary grade up. They are given lessons in both German and English grammar and by the time she graduated from secondary school, she was already fairly fluent in the King’s English. She befriended soldiers (male and female) at a US Army base in order to learn American English and has never looked back. I am awed by her ability to switch so rapidly between her native language and English. She only stumbles a bit over American slang but other than that, you’d swear she was born and raised in Maryland.
Andrea’s children (and now, grandchildren) have benefited from her bilingual education and it made me wonder why the United States — with all or exceptional school systems — delays foreign language learning until middle school or even high school. In Germany, as with other European and Eastern European countries, young students are fully immersed in English from day one of school.
There’s plenty of research to support a second language for your child.
For whatever reason America, as a nation, is reluctant to embrace foreign language fluency for our students. If and when our students take a foreign language, it’s an elective that starts sometime in middle school. If they wait until high school, they only need three years of a language to graduate. And they will immediately forget every word of French, Spanish or German, the moment they graduate.
It’s time for us to reconsider. Decades of research (click here) suggest that kids who learn more than one language gain broad cognitive benefits. The perform better on standardized tests and excel in reading and science. Their ability to problem-solve gets exponentially better. Recent studies have even found that fluency in a foreign language will help fend off senility and extend lifespans.
Take advantage of our simple program to help your young student get started in a foreign language. You can use our system to further augment a program in which you have already enrolled your child or as a way to introduce them to the idea of a foreign language.