The benefits of being a bilingual: How can we adapt the school curriculum?
By Sofia Duggan
Learning a new language is beneficial within a globalised world, so why not make it easier for the next generations and integrate it into their school life at an earlier age?
Benefits of speaking two languages:
4.Children proficient in other languages also show signs of enhanced creativity and mental flexibility.
As a bilingual myself, it has allowed me to communicate with a wide range of people and even just my family. By speaking Italian and English, grasping concepts of other languages, such as Spanish and Latin, becomes much simpler due to their similarities. This being said, by learning just one other language, becoming a trilingual or polyglot becomes much more straightforward.
Changes to school curriculum:
By having these experiences, I think many other children should be able to share them too, which is why I believe the school curriculum should begin to teach languages at a younger age than they do currently.
Typical primary schools begin teaching a second language around the age of 8, this usually being French too. However, I believe a second language should start being taught at the age of 5, in smaller instalments yet more frequently, to create balance for the children as they develop their first language too.
I also think that a wider range should be offered as it is usually limited to Spanish and French. It is because of the brain’s elasticity and rapid neural formation that younger children are able to learn new languages at a faster rate and are also able to pick up accents more effectively. A disadvantage for adults when learning languages is their fear of making mistakes, which children are less afraid of doing, also boosting their confidence.
Although I do believe growing in a multilingual household gives me an advantage when learning a language, I do believe there are ways these advantages can be passed on to those learning within a school. For example, for children learning in younger years, teachers who are native speakers of the
language would be used to ensure that more traditional language is used, even including ‘slang’ or more informal phrases that would be more commonly heard when speaking that language.
Overall, languages allow us to express our emotions and thoughts in unique ways, with whole new groups of people. The cultural heritage languages hold is so important, and so we need to teach the next generation different languages before it is too late, and foreign languages die out.
If you could have been given the opportunity to discover a new world at such a young age, wouldn’t you too grasp it with both hands?