A recent study of 6-month-old babies in Singapore revealed something you probably won’t find surprising: Children who are exposed to two or more languages have a greater intellectual advantage over monolingual children.
The study, which is part of a long-term project known as Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes (Gusto), is a partnership between the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Singapore Institute for Clinical Studies, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and the National University Health System.
The study, which started in 2009, showed that bilingual kids have better memory and cognitive ability than their monolingual peers; they’re also able to focus better. Being able to speak, read and write in another language can also help your child become a “global citizen” later in life. Polyglots are more successful, and more confident when it comes to dealing with other cultures, and living, studying and working internationally.
What’s more, the younger a child is, the better his or her ability to pick up another language, but even if your kid is in primary or secondary school, it won’t hurt to enrol him or her in an additional language course.
Here’s how some top schools and language institutes teach second and third languages – and why.
It’s all about Mandarin at this preschool, where up to 70 percent of the classes are taught in Chinese! The curriculum provides true language immersion for children aged 18 months to 6-plus years, who can acquire the love of learning Mandarin through activities such as Chinese drama and art. By adopting a story-based approach to teaching, ELFA exposes children to age-appropriate Chinese literature to develop their aural, oral, reading and writing competencies. One highlight? Its weekly “moral” stories, where children learn the importance of values that will help to shape their characters positively from young. ( for locations)
At Canadian International School, a strong focus is placed on creating authentic experiences where learning in school mirrors real-life activities – and offers second-language instruction in either Mandarin or French. This helps make the learning more meaningful for students and motivates them to learn more. The school, which has two locations covering preschool to secondary school, also integrates culture into all its lessons, using a variety of authentic materials (such as Tweets, YouTube videos and music). Likewise, it engages students in active, hands-on activities like acting out plays, cooking and participating in quizzes.
At EtonHouse’s 11 preschools, the youngest students benefit from an integrated bilingual environment, where there is a Mandarin early childhood educator in each class along with the core teacher and an assistant teacher. This offers children a spontaneous environment for learning Mandarin. Bonus: Some of its preschools even offer other languages such as Japanese, Hindi, Tamil and Malay!
Language learning is an important part of the philosophy at Dulwich College (Singapore), as it believes that learning a language –particularly, the “global language” of Mandarin – is essential to understanding the world and to appreciating the subtleties of cultural differences. Its Dual Language learning programme has been developed through in-depth academic research, and exposes young learners to English and Mandarin in context rather than just in a formal setting.
By providing an environment rich in learning opportunities, with one teacher focusing on English and a second on Mandarin, students gain the confidence to use language with meaning rather than just through imitation. Dulwich offers three streams: CNL – Chinese as a Native Language; MSL – Mandarin as a Second Language; and MFL – Mandarin as a Foreign Language. And it offers dual-language instruction as early as the Foundation Stage, Year 1 and Year 2.
This is the only school in Singapore that provides a fully integrated modern Hebrew language instruction programme, which covers the Israeli National Curriculum. It uses a full Hebrew immersion programme that enables children to acquire their language skills as deeply as possible. Children can choose between Hebrew or Mandarin, and are taught in a dynamic, creative and active way.
Those opting for Mandarin have the opportunity to take part in the Youth Chinese Test (YCT) an international standardised Chinese language test directed at examining non-native primary and secondary school students’ ability to apply Chinese language in their studies and daily lives. And, the school has a 100-percent success rate!
From The Finder (Issue 294), September 2018
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