Dual Language Learning: Dual Language Stress and Learning

Dual Language Learning: Dual Language Stress and Learning

Dual Language Learning: Dual Language Stress and Learning

Originally published under the title, “Brain Research: Dual Language Learning” on Brain Research In Practice (BRIP).

You’ve heard about how it really matters what your children listen to and remember when listening to English, or whatever language they’re speaking. Like when they’re reading or writing to you as a sign of love or gratitude, you’re less likely to forget something just because you were reading or writing to a different speaker. So the vocabulary you use could be your best friend, helping you remember what they were saying because it will not be in your memory bank for too long.

But in the classroom, things can change. Take example, for example Spanish; according to a 2010 study by Kiersten Paisley, writer and co-creator of THE HOME SCHOOLER’S ADVOCATE blog, “90 percent of Spanish-speaking children do not develop sufficient fluency skills… in order to achieve the ability to communicate like native Spanish speakers.” This is disturbing for two reasons.

The most obvious one is that fluency – and, by extension, speaking in Spanish – is more important for learning and communicating than ever before. Immigrants, if they arrive in the U.S. at all, are learning a new language as they come. And as more children and adults learn English in this dual language environment, these two languages won’t always be visible. English and Spanish are busy assuring that their native speakers are successfully integrated into the English-speaking community and speaking English.

Dual-language environments, and speaking dual languages, also enable students to learn in two different languages simultaneously, something no one is going to do on the computer.

Dual-language environments, and speaking dual languages, also enable students to learn in two different languages simultaneously, something no one is going to do on the computer. To give you an idea of the potential impact of having two systems in one child’s brain: one language is English, one language is Spanish, both languages are being spoken simultaneously in the school. According to Paisley’s report,

Learning in languages other than English cannot be done on a computer.

Increasingly, learning English, in translation, and learning two languages in conjunction in school seems to be happening. What’s the best way to build vocabulary and develop fluency in two languages, without sounding “cool” or making fun of it by using language?

Instead of going off into three different programs to learn both languages at once, learn English separately, the time where there is a dedicated time for learning one language and a separate time for learning the other, and from a trained teacher.

To give you an idea of the potential impact of having two systems in one child’s brain: one language is English, one language is Spanish, both languages are being spoken simultaneously in the school. According to Paisley’s report,

A coach would sit there watching and listening for example, while the child was writing or talking on the computer and have a coach supervisory and coach everything. We haven’t done anything yet to accomplish this and I hope that people are looking at us wanting to do something like this.

Learning English in specific, together with learning Spanish, would foster better word and letter recognition. Learning English as well as learning to speak and write Spanish would help children improve their fluency. And learning to speak in different languages in the same environment in a coordinated way would be beneficial for socializing children and strengthening connections between them.

Research, like many things in life, is still very subjective. So try it first and see if you like the results. We can do better.

Anya Kamenetz’s book, “Smart Kids, Bad Schools: The Case for Parental Control” is about the smart students who are leaving American public schools and enrolling in private, charter and home schools. She is also the author of the best-selling nonfiction book, “The Affluenza Nation”, which examines the social ills plaguing our nation’s public education system. She can be contacted at [email protected] To subscribe to Brain Research In Practice (BRIP), go to www.BrainResearchInPractice…

Photo credit: Creative Commons Attribution (2.0)

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