Learning a second language can enhance working memory, build executive function skills and even lead to better friendships. But there’s another benefit of bilingual education. Enrolling your child in a language immersion preschool could improve their English grammar, vocabulary, reading and speaking skills. This accelerated language acquisition can benefit your child’s progress in other academic areas. This post examines the effect learning a second language at a bilingual preschool has on the child’s first language.
What the Science Says
Various studies investigate the link between language acquisition and its effect on a native language. The following research, quoted in a paper from the National Education Association (NEA), suggests learning a new language can improve English skills, especially for young language-learners at preschool:
- Learning a new language improved students’ knowledge of English vocabulary and structure. (Original research: Curtain & Dahlberg, 2004)
- Third and fifth graders who took foreign language classes did better in English tests than those not learning a new language. (Dumas, 1999)
- Students scored higher in language arts classes after just one semester of foreign language study. (Armstrong, 1997)
- Those who learn a foreign language outperformed control groups in core subjects on standardized tests. (Various studies)
Why Do Second Language Preschoolers Develop Better English Skills?
Learning a second language (or even a third) might improve first language acquisition for several reasons. Language learning enhances motivation and thinking skills, which might carry over into other subject areas such as English. Language immersion preschoolers could be more attentive to learning English vocabulary and grammar because they also develop these skills in a second language.
One theory suggests that second language learners ignore irrelevant stimuli and concentrate on the most relevant information during language acquisition. Learning two languages simultaneously — English and a second language — trains the brain to process auditory information more efficiently, resulting in better English vocabulary and grammar.
Other research suggests that learning a second language during childhood can increase cognitive functions such as problem-solving and critical thinking, as well as the ability to multitask.
“Children proficient in other languages also show signs of enhanced creativity and mental flexibility,” says Lead With Languages.
Why Is First Language Acquisition Important?
Improving your child’s first language skills can benefit them in multiple ways. Take English vocabulary, for example. Studies show that a robust vocabulary developed during childhood:
- Improves reading skills
- Helps children think and learn about the world
- Enhances academic achievement
- Provides access to new information
(Source: JCFS Chicago)
First language acquisition is important during the early years of childhood development. That’s because humans decline in their language ability as they get older. Nurturing English vocabulary and grammar skills during this critical period for language, therefore, is extremely important.
What Are the Other Benefits of Learning a Second Language?
Mastering a second language, especially at a young age, can help learners communicate with people from various cultural backgrounds. It can also improve confidence, promote better friendships and increase memory.
There are other advantages:
“Adults who grew up speaking two different languages can shift their attention between different tasks quicker than those who pick up a second language later in life,” says CNBC. “This is just one of many cognitive benefits of being bilingual.”
It’s much easier for children to learn a second language than adults. That’s because children up to the age of 8 have flexible speech and ear muscles that detect differences in the sounds of a second language.
Why Should You Enroll Your Child in a Language Immersion Preschool?
Language immersion is a language acquisition technique where the learner is “immersed” in a second language. They develop language skills by socializing with other learners and speaking, writing, reading and listening to the second language in a classroom environment. Research shows language immersion programs can improve a child’s literacy and cognitive skills and even lead to better employment opportunities in the future.
KSS Spanish Immersion Preschools can let your child experience the benefits of bilingualism. Young language learners will develop new skills and socialize with other children in a COVID-secure environment. For over 20 years, KSS has provided the highest quality early childhood education with its range of Spanish immersion programs for children across the San Francisco Bay Area.
Research suggests a positive link between learning a second language and the development of English vocabulary and grammar. This accelerated acquisition of a first language could be the result of improved motivation and thinking skills developed during second language study. Enrolling your child in a Spanish immersion preschool, therefore, might not only help them master a new language but improve their first.