In Europe and other parts of the world, it is not unusual for children to learn two or more languages in the home. Hearing and speaking other languages is natural to them. Infants and small children are developmentally receptive to language and carefully watch our faces, especially our mouths, as we speak to them. It is very valuable for young children to be exposed to the different cultures and literature and they love to sing songs and listen to stories. This is the environment that has been prepared at Saint Nicholas School.
Multilingual Early Literacy: Importance and Benefits
Multilingual early literacy is essential for children learning two or more languages as they grow. In addition to these multilanguage learners (MLLs), it’s also crucial for any young student to learn a second language as they continue to develop their first language.
When it comes to success in school early literacy skills are essential. This is because they prepare children to become more successful readers. Aside from a growing familiarity with the text, it’s important for children to develop a vocabulary and the ability to recognize and manipulate words.
Children in preschool can learn the basic sounds of the letters in each language, can begin to blend them and can read simple words. They are also learning to write letters or can use the moveable alphabet to express their knowledge.
Through multilingual learning children forge new pathways for both vocabulary and phonological awareness. Oftentimes, the size of these children’s vocabulary accelerates quite rapidly as MLLs enter early childhood
At our classical school, Houston students benefit from our Multilingual Early Literacy program including Latin, French, Spanish, and English. Through this, we offer improved resources and a stimulating environment. Both of these have a significant impact on an MLLs development.
The Benefits of Multilingual Early Literacy
Across the United States, many children live their lives in multiple languages. When children learn multiple languages at an early age, it brings forth an array of developmental benefits.
- Flexible thinking
- Increased focus and attention
- The ability to tune out distractions
- Improved self-control
Moreover, some research shows that bilingual children develop stronger working memory. This allows children to hold, process, and update information over brief periods of time, which is an essential skill for both problem-solving and executive function.
Additionally, research shows that MLLs have strong math skills, executive function, and conflict resolution skills. As we welcome the whole child through multilingual early literacy, we send a powerful message that their diverse languages contribute to vibrancy in our community.
Foster Modern Skills
As children learn in multiple languages, they understand and master language as a system of meaning. A firm foundation in literacy provides them with the assurance that they can communicate in meaningful ways. Moreover, the ability to communicate clearly is one of the most essential modern skills.
Through multilingual early literacy, a school helps children develop an understanding that equality doesn’t mean “the same.” MLLs learn to appreciate different cultures and ways of producing meaning. In turn, this fosters their diplomacy skills.
This empathy develops alongside the curriculum that improves their literacy. While it is a soft skill, empathy provides students with access to richer social networks. As such, they secure future success and social mobility.
Through multilingual early literacy, there’s a positive correlation with intelligence. When a student speaks more than one language at a young age, it forces the brain to work harder. In those years of critical development, they build stronger skills that benefit them later.
Often, MLLs carry this benefit throughout the rest of their lives. Additionally, these students tend to show improved attention spans and flexible thinking. For some researchers, this is due to the fact that they learn how to interpret situations to understand how to respond.
Oftentimes, children who speak more than one language become better with each language they speak. For instance, when a child who speaks Spanish at home learns English, they tend to develop a stronger understanding if they use their home language in the classroom.
When a school accepts multiple languages and allows for code-switching, it helps to ensure children remain connected to their communities.
Improved Job Prospects
While parents don’t always look at their children and see their future career, multilingual early literacy opens doors. Often, proficiency in multiple languages improves a child’s odds of finding work later in life.
Generally, this is due to the fact that MLLs have strong cognitive skills. Therefore, they tend to perform better in certain tasks and have access to a broader job market.
Multilingual Early Literacy at Our Classical School
With the vast benefits of multilingual early literacy, it is crucial to find a school for your child that promotes the use of multiple languages. Multilingualism is an asset to nurture in the classroom. With the appropriate strategies, teachers help to intentionally celebrate MLLs as they grow.
To learn more about our curriculum and multilingual literacy, schedule an appointment with our school today.