¿De dónde eres?

English Translation Below:

Por Erica Mirochnik, Creadora de Mamás por el mundo

Mamasporelmundo.com

Facebook.com/Mamasporelmundo

 

Una de las preguntas más frecuentes que les hacen a mis hijos, y a muchos otros niños también es “¿de dónde eres?”

Para la mayoría de los niños esto es algo sencillo de responder. Para los míos es algo más complejo.

La respuesta más común a esta pregunta es que somos del lugar donde nacimos. En el caso de muchas familias como la mía, mis hijos han nacido en un país que no es el de sus padres y en el que tampoco viven en este momento.

Entonces la respuesta se vuelve algo más larga que decir “soy de…” Comienza una larga serie de explicaciones en las que cuentan que sus padres se han mudado varias veces, que ellos han nacido en uno de esos tantos lugares de residencia pero que ya hace un tiempo que no viven allí.

La versión de respuesta corta es decir que son del país de los padres, cosa que muchos mencionan para evitar dar tantos detalles de su vida y la de su familia.

Para muchas familias es prácticamente impensable la idea de haberte ido a vivir lejos de tu lugar de origen. Sin ir más lejos, hasta hace no mucho tiempo, la gente pasaba su vida entera sin moverse de su ciudad o de su pueblo.

Esto hace que comunicarse con gente en otras latitudes sea el primer desafío que enfrentan estas familias que se han mudado. Y no es sólo una cuestión de cuán bien sabes el idioma local, lo importante es pensar como comunicas con quienes te rodean. Pensar si utilizas el segundo idioma meramente para trabajo y cuestiones prácticas o si has podido establecer vínculos que te permiten compartir algo más íntimo de tu vida con tu nuevo entorno.

En los niños sucede de una forma más natural, ya que a través del juego que es un lenguaje en el que se sienten muy cómodos, los niños pueden expresarse de diferentes formas, pero sobretodo utilizan el segundo idioma para interactuar de manera natural.

Los adultos tenemos nuestros propios obstáculos al respecto, a veces reales y a veces autoimpuestos. Creemos que no sabemos lo suficiente o que tenemos un acento muy fuerte, y nos limitamos la capacidad de interactuar. Buscamos muchas excusas por diferentes razones y así nos privamos de uno de los mayores beneficios que tiene vivir en otro país que es conocer la cultura y la gente del lugar.

Entonces volviendo a “¿de dónde eres?”, creo que es importante manifestar tu origen de diferentes maneras y a través de una segunda lengua abrirte a un mundo de posibilidades donde no solo te beneficias tu, sino tu interlocutor.

Cuando un niño cuenta que ha nacido en otra ciudad genera curiosidad, y cuando un adulto lo cuenta puede generar un diálogo interesante.

En ese momento lo que importa es de dónde vienes y a dónde has llegado, más allá de tus motivos. Estas aquí y ahora con todo tu bagaje, es el equipaje que ha venido contigo y del que debes estar orgulloso para poder compartirlo.

 

 

 “Where are you from?”

By Erica Mirochnik, Creator of Mamás por el mundo

Mamasporelmundo.com

Facebook.com/Mamasporelmundo

 

One of the most frequently asked questions that my children, and many other children are asked is  “Where are you from?”

For most children this is something simple to answer. For mine it is more complex.

The most common answer to such a question is that they are from the place where they were born. For international and expatriate families like mine, our children were born in a country that is neither where their parents are from nor the country where they currently live.

Then the answer becomes somewhat longer to say “I’m from …” and thus begins a long series of explanations which explains that their parents have moved several times, that they were born in one of those many places of residence, and that it has been a long time since they lived there.

A shorter version of the answer is that they are from the country of their parents, which is commonly used so as to avoid giving many personal and family details.

For much of society,  it is an unthinkable idea to live far from your place of origin. Without going any further, until not long ago, people spent their entire lives without leaving their town or village.

This makes communicating with people in other latitudes the first challenge faced by these families who have moved. And it is not only a question of how well you know the local language but also how well you are able to communicate with those around you. Think about if you use the second language merely for work and for answering practical questions or if you have also been able to establish language connections that allow you to share more intimate details of your life with those in your new environment.

For children language learning happens more naturally, because already like learning a game, a new language will feel very comfortable.  Children can express themselves in different ways, but more than anything, children learn to interact in the second language more naturally.

As adults, we encounter our own obstacles, sometimes real and sometimes self – imposed. Either, we do not know enough or we have a very strong accent, and we limit our ability to interact. We look for many excuses for different reasons, and by doing so, we deprive ourselves of one of the greatest benefits that come from living in another country– that is the culture and the locals.

Now back to “where are you from ?” I think it’s important to deliver your origin in a variety of ways; and through the use of your second language you can begin to open up a world of possibilities where you not only benefit but also the person to whom you speak benefits.

Curiosity is generated when one learns that a child is born in another city; and when an adult shares this with others, interesting dialogue can develop.

And at that moment, what becomes important is where you come from and where have you arrived, more than motives.  You are here with all of your baggage, it is it the luggage that has come with you and you should be proud to share it with others.

5 Tips for Using Bilingual Books in the Classroom & Home

Bilingual books are a great resource for bridging two different languages. They offer educators the chance to teach students in the school language while providing a tool for home language development and parental involvement among dual language families.

Studies have shown that supporting a child’s home language is very important for enhancing academic performance, even in cases where the language spoken at school is not the same as the language spoken at home. Children do better in school when their parents read to them, communicate, and engage in daily tasks and activities in the language in which they are most comfortable.

Below are 5 tips on how parents and educators can use bilingual books in the classroom and at home to improve literacy skills and encourage cultural appreciation.

Read bilingual books in English and show students written text in a second language.

Teachers or parents can use bilingual stories to familiarize children with other languages that use the Roman alphabet as well as languages with different letters and symbols, such as Hindi and Korean. This way, children can better understand that written speech and letters have varied forms.

Read a bilingual book in the school language and then read it in the home language.

In addition to supporting a child’s overall language development, reading at home with parents strengthens the child-parent bond and helps the parent teach about their shared culture and language. Teachers can read a book in English at school and then lend it to a child to read at home, or parents with dual-language skills can read the book in both languages.

Read culturally relevant bilingual books.

When educators read multicultural books that show texts from other parts of the world, they are imparting knowledge about various cultures, customs and traditions. This promotes a climate of cultural diversity and tolerance.

Engage children with question and answer sessions and discussion in both the school and home languages.

Bilingual books can offer the chance to discuss the same subjects in two separate languages. Teachers can initiate communication in the school’s language, while parents can do the same in their home language. Children can be sent home with a list of suggested topics for discussion to use with parents at home.

Parents or other volunteers read a bilingual book in the non-dominant language in school.

Teachers can invite parents to participate in reading bilingual books in their home language to the class. The teacher can then read the book in the school language. This enhances the bonds between the class and the family/community. It also makes parents feel welcome and provides an opportunity for them to share their expertise. If parents are unable to come to the classroom, other teachers or community members who know the home language can be invited to read in the second language.

These are just a few examples of ways that teachers and parents can use bilingual books at school and at home. The aim is to build a child’s overall literacy and communication skills, ensure that they are proud of their culture and language, and help them become understanding, multicultural citizens.

 

Author: Anneke Forzani is President and Founder of Language Lizard LLC, which offers bilingual books, dual-language audio products and multilingual resources to teachers, librarians and bilingual families. Language Lizard also provides free multicultural lesson plans to promote tolerance and cultural understanding in diverse classrooms.

 

 

A Bilingual Lifestyle has made us a better Family

Note: This is guest post by Aileen Passariello-McAleer, co-founder of MamaLingua. This post was first featured on MomRising Blog for #bilingualrisers campaign.

I was raised in a Spanish-speaking household. Although I heard Spanish throughout my childhood, I rarely responded in Spanish. I didn’t know how important my language was to me until I got pregnant and decided that I wanted to raise bilingual/bicultural children. I really didn’t think about it in those terms; I just remember telling my husband that I wanted our son to feel connected to my heritage. But it was more than that. I wanted him to understand that the world is not limited to the one that surrounds us day to day, but that there is a world beyond our borders – in different countries, with different customs, and different languages. By learning Spanish, more of that world would be available to him, and he could know it on a more intimate level. I didn’t want my child to live in a cultural bubble; I wanted him to see the world how I saw it.

I didn’t know the challenge I would be facing when my son was born. I remember calling my mom and asking her about basic vocabulary for things around the house, as I narrated to my son. I forced myself to speak only Spanish to my parents to enhance my fluency and recall, and I implemented a Spanish-only policy at home – except when it was just me and my husband.

Raising bilingual children in a monolingual environment is challenging. At one point, my son refused to speak in Spanish. Returning home from school one day he asked, “Everyone in the world speaks English. Why do we need to speak Spanish?” It was at that point that I knew I had two choices: I could allow him to believe that, or I could show him the reality. That night, I told my English-speaking husband what our son had said. The next morning, as we sat down for breakfast, my husband, with his limited Spanish skills, turned to our son and asked “¿Quieres una servilleta?” [Do you want a napkin?] It was at that very moment that my son understood he had something his dad didn’t have – something his dad wanted. While his dad struggled with the language, our son realized he could easily communicate in Spanish. I saw him smile as he answered, “¡Si!” [Yes!]

 

Over the past six years, my Spanish has improved tremendously. My children are bilingual, and one shocking result: so is my husband! My husband has been immersed in Spanish since our son was born. In the house, he hears Spanish being spoken every day and in context. If he ever needs translation, my children usually communicate for me, and he has never complained. Instead, he has embraced our bilingual home and has begun to incorporate more Spanish into our daily routines with our kiddos.

My son has also grown very proud of his ability and always points out when someone is speaking Spanish. I do my best to reinforce his interest. Whenever I interact with someone in Spanish, I always follow up afterward by saying to him, “Wasn’t it nice that we were able to talk to that person in Spanish?”

Sometimes kids will challenge and fight you for things that you want them to embrace. At those times, you have to let them know that you understand their frustration. However, it’s also important to communicate the “why” behind your desire for them to learn, and as I’ve learned, to show them the “why.”

Next year my son will be attending a dual language public school where not only his instruction will be in Spanish but half of the student population will be Spanish speaking dominant as well. This move was very important to us because we didn’t want him to grow up in isolation of the reality of our world. I also believe that in this environment, he will embrace his ability to speak two languages and be able to help students on both sides, those learning English and those learning Spanish.

I’m very proud of my bilingual/bicultural family. It’s taken a lot of hard work and consistency, but I can see the impact it has had on my children. My son knows about Venezuela, where my mom is from; Italy, where his Nonno is from; Mexico, where his cousins live; and if you ask him, he’ll tell you he speaks English, Spanish and Italian.

My daughter is still very young, but Spanish is her language of love. When she meets someone who speaks Spanish, she quickly embraces them in a hug, because for her, Spanish speakers are familia. This summer, we’re taking our bilingual family to Mexico and immersing them in a different bubble – one where Spanish is spoken all around them. I’m excited to see them grow in this experience.

Aileen Passariello-McAleer’s determination to raise a bilingual and bicultural family led her to her mission: to help parents learn basic Spanish or English alongside their child.  As a result, she created an app for parents, MamaLingua, organized by daily activities and routines so that parents can begin implementing Spanish or English phrases throughout their day. The App is currently on sale for the at a reduced price of $1.99. It can be found in the App Store or in Google Play.

Bilingual Middle School Programs: Filling the Void

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Austin Independent School District (AISD) has extended the Spanish/English dual-Language program to three middle schools beginning this academic year. The schools are Fulmore MS, Paredes MS and Burnet MS; and depending on space available, all three currently allow for transfers.  This is welcoming news for many of the bilingual students who have completed one of the many dual-language elementary programs throughout AISD.  However, it also addresses a bigger issue–the lack of bilingual educational programs for middle school students.

If you peruse Think Bilingual Austin’s directory, you can find an assortment of preschool bilingual programs throughout the community.  As a child get’s into Elementary school, you are still likely to find a bilingual program to keep your child engaged. Yet, once your child gets into middle school, the options seem to almost disappear.  After-school bilingual programs are few.  If you are lucky, your child’s middle school will offer world language classes.  Yet, these classes are mostly designed for those who have no prior language experience in a second language; and, thus are not ideal for those who have already developed a level of proficiency in the language.  (I even had one mother tell me that her daughter’s middle school would not even allow first year middle school students to take a foreign language class, further delaying her daughter’s chance to keep what she did know fresh).  Moreover, the majority of bilingual programs that do exist in middle schools primarily serve English Language Learners (ELLs) so that they can become proficient in English as quickly as possible. While this is very important; most of these programs are not designed to enable ELLs to also continue to strengthen knowledge and understanding in their native language.

The lack of programs for learning a second languages is seen throughout the United States.  An article published in Forbes, America’s Foreign Language Deficit, highlights the overall decline in investment in secondary language instruction across all educational institutions at a time when the need for students to become bilingual to compete in the global economy is increasing. It reveals the decline in foreign language instruction for middle schools alone went from 75% in 1997 to 53% in 2008.  In contrast, other countries around the world usually begin instruction in a second language in elementary school and continue to increase that instruction during the middle school years; thereby creating proficiency in a second language by the time a student graduates(2).

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Why is Middle School Second Language Instruction Important?

  • Middle school students are at a prime age for second language acquisition.
    • Middle school students are still young enough for immersion based learning to be quite effective.  However, they are also old enough to begin higher analytical thinking about the constructs of the language such as grammatical differences (1).
  • Middle school students begin thinking about their world more autonomously.
    • Students in middle school are at an age when they seek more autonomy in their life while also seeking to better understand how they fit in society and the world around them.  Becoming bilingual and multicultural gives this age group a better grasp of the world and society at large and how they can be a part of it.
  • Perfect time to begin developing needed skills for their future.
    • Studying a foreign language or learning a second language develops important intellectual skills such as creative thinking, problem solving, and effective communication, all of which are transferable skills to other disciplines.
    • Moreover, learning a language in middle school and continuing the study of that language would enable a level of proficiency to be attained by the time the student graduates high school and enters college or the workforce (2,3).

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Why are Middle School Second Language Programs Scarce and What Can Be Done?

  • Reduction in allocated funds. This likely reflects general attitudes by the public and education administrators.
  • Greater public awareness of the importance of bilingual education to better equip our future workforce for the global economy can spur efforts to grow support for such programs and put pressure back on administrators to better fund these programs.
  • An increased reliance on online language courses to teach middle schools. This goes hand in hand with the general lack of funding for foreign language programs.  However, research has shown that technology does not replace personal human interaction in language acquisition.
  • Online language courses can be used as a useful supplementary tool for language learning but not as a replacement.  We humans use so many subtle ques with varying expressions, gestures and tones when we communicate. By learning from personal interaction, we receive more engaging feedback for how to more effectively communicate in a second language.
  • Too many competing interests.  Middle school is a wonderful time to explore different subject areas and interests.  Because second language classes are often offered as an elective, it is forced to compete with so many other areas of interest. Yet, to become proficient in a second language a student must dedicate a considerable amount of time.  With so many options available, studying a secondary language may not be perceived as a worthwhile investment given the perceived more immediate rewards of studying something else.
  • By incorporating second language study into the core units of studies through an interdisciplinary approach, schools can prioritize second language acquisition more effectively (1, 2).
  • Secondary language instruction may be less meaningful.  Unfortunately, most programs in middle schools only offer basic introductory courses for those with no prior language study background.  The instruction of a second language in isolation does not provide a meaningful or purposeful experience for most students.  For those who are already bilingual or proficient in a second language, such classes may feel like a waste of time.
  • To be meaningful, middle school second language programs need to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to facilitate effective communication of ideas, feelings, understanding and knowledge in both a written and oral format and provide  a scaffolding model for continued language development based on level of proficiency (1).

References:

1) Sandrock, Paul, & Elizabeth Webb. (April 15, 2003). Learning Languages in Middle Schools. National Council of State Supervisors of Foreign Languages.

2) Pufahl, I., Rohodes, N., & Christian, D. (2000). Foreign Language Teaching: What the United States Can Learn from Other Countries.  Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.

3) Education Network of the European Commission (2000). The Position of Foreign Languages in European Education Systems (1999/2000). Brussels, Belgium.

Context Is Key!

Post by Aileen Passariello-McAleer with Christia Hoffman, Founders of Mama LinguaMamaLingua_Header_1200

As my daughter stepped out of the shower the other day, I wrapped her up tightly in a towel and said “Acurrúcate!” I was telling her to get cozy and cuddle up in the towel.

Mi hija stared intently at my mouth as I spoke, so I continued to repeat the word as she snuggled into her towel. After she’d heard it a few times, she said, “Mami, acurrúcate!” For the next five minutes, we acted out what “accurúcate” means and practiced how to say it. I never needed to translate the word into English, because the meaning was clear through the context. (See what I just did there at the beginning?)

Later that day, my little one began singing “Los Pollitos Dicen,” a song about a mother hen who cuddles her chicks to sleep. “Acurracaditos… duermen los pollitos.” That was an aha moment — for both of us. I realized my daughter had learned the meaning of a new word and connected it with a song she already knew. Immersion at its finest.

Teaching through context is a great tool when immersing your child in a second language. You can utilize as many props as needed to communicate the meaning of the word and to set the stage for learning in the target language, rather than learning through translation.

For my daughter, learning “acurrúcate” in context made such an impression that she now uses the word anytime either of us gets out of the shower. Routine and context have made this word a permanent part of our vocabulary and her comprehension.

My Tip: Use this concept to teach some of those keywords to your little ones, your spouse, and yourself — and to make the most of your daily routines.Use “Vamanos!” as you walk out the door, and your kids will know they should be going with you. “Despiértate!” as you open their shades so they can get ready for the day. “Quien quiere helado?” as you prepare to serve up some ice cream. Context is key!

Have a Multicultural and Bilingual Holiday Season!

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The holiday season is upon us!  This is a wonderful time to focus on bilingualism by taking advantage of seasonal themes to build meaningful associations and context in language acquisition.  Here are a few ideas for you and your family to do at home.

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Learn holiday carols and other seasonal songs in another language.

Singing is a wonderful and fun way to enhance language learning!  Learn holiday songs in the second language this season.   You can find songs online on sites like Youtube  and Canto Alegre, and in CD/Book sets such as De Colores by José-Luis Orozo  (which may be available at the library or can be purchased online).  

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Learn about different holiday customs and traditions from other parts of the world.

Attend a multicultural holiday event, find a book at the library or peruse the internet to learn about different customs and traditions for celebrating holidays this time of the year.  By learning about other customs, traditions and other seasonally related holidays, you gain new insight and meaning into your own customs and traditions.  In the process, you may also decide to adapt customs or practices from other cultures to make your own celebration more meaningful and personal to you and your family.

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Watch a family movie in your second language.

Watching a family movie together is a great way to incorporate language learning with family fun over the holiday break.  Most Disney languages are available in Spanish and French. Many online streaming services such as Netflix as well as Youtube offer select movies in multiple languages.  The library also has a nice collection of family movies in other languages and it is free!

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Incorporates vocabulary learning in holiday related activities and projects.

Have fun making your own seasonal bilingual games like bingo or memory card games. Make bilingual seasonal cards or decorative artwork inspired by a seasonal theme such as a snow flake to enhance vocabulary learning in the second language.   For a special holiday treat, make holiday cookies or cakes using vocabulary for all the ingredients and the baking process in your second language.

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Read holiday and seasonally themed stories and books in the second language.

Reading is always a fun and enriching way to add vocabulary in any language.  Take advantage of the season by reading seasonal themed stories together in the second language. By doing so you  add not only vocabulary but also personal and meaningful context to the experience of the holiday season.  The library, online book stores and online educational websites are great places to find seasonal themed stories in a variety of languages.

Seasons Greetings to you all from Think Bilingual Austin!

How can we support kids in learning more than one language?

The Conversation

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Those who know more than one language have a competitive edge.
The LEAF Project, CC BY-SA

Ester J de Jong, University of Florida

There is little doubt that knowing more than one language carries tremendous advantages.

Young bilinguals are known to be flexible thinkers and better problem solvers. They have a competitive edge in the labor market, with those fluent in English along with another language showing higher earnings. What’s more, research shows that knowing more than one language could even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia by two to four years.

Most people have come to agree that it is necessary to know more than one language. Over 70% of respondents in a recent study conducted in Florida agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that all students should learn an additional language of their choice.

The question is, how can we support our children in learning more than one language?

I have been a bilingual educator for over 20 years. I have worked with teachers and conducted many classroom observations and program evaluations. One bilingual education model that research has shown to be particularly effective is “Two-Way Immersion,” or TWI.

How the program works

TWI programs are bilingual programs designed to build high levels of bilingual proficiency.

Students who are already fluent in English but want to learn another language are taught along with students who are fluent in a language other than English. These students are also in the process of learning English as a second language.

Some programs teach 50% of the time in English and 50% of the time in a partner language (eg, Spanish, Korean, Chinese). Other programs immerse all students first in the partner language and later (by fourth or fifth grade) get to a 50%-50% level in both languages.

The integration of these two groups of native language speakers (eg, English and Spanish) is one of the reasons that the program works so well. Both groups of students have the chance to practice the language they are learning not only with the teacher but also with their peers in the classroom.

The TWI programs achieve results by integrating language learning.
woodleywonderworks, CC BY

Another advantage of TWI programs lies in the fact that these are part of the regular academic programs (that is, they teach the regular curriculum as prescribed under the state and district content standards). The only difference is that they teach the content through two different languages.

I have seen the benefits firsthand of this model of teaching, for both students and families. A few years ago, a colleague and I researched the experiences of the graduating class of a longstanding TWI program.

Both English and Spanish language speakers told us it had helped them understand diversity and become better at collaborating with those who come from language and cultural backgrounds other than their own.

Being able to speak both Spanish and English, they said, allowed them to work in more and more diverse communities. They anticipated it would help them with their college applications as well as in finding a future job.

The native Spanish speakers in the program added that maintaining their Spanish skills helped maintain the connection not only with their immediate families in the US but also in their home country and with their communities.

What is the evidence?

Our observations are also supported by research.

Students who are enrolled in TWI programs consistently outperform similar students in regular education programs. TWI students score higher on standardized tests in both reading and math.

One study in California showed that while the state average score was around the 50th percentile in reading and math, TWI English proficient students scored around the 71th percentile in reading and math.

The difference for students still learning English was even more pronounced: English learners scored at the 50th percentile in seventh grade in math and reading whereas their peers scored below the 10th percentile.

This pattern has been noted for students who are still in the process of learning English and for students from higher and lower socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as for students with disabilities.

Students studying more than one language also do better academically.
Osama ALASSIRY, CC BY-NC-SA

A recent study in North Carolina again supported the general positive achievement outcomes for TWI for different groups of students. The study also closely looked at African-American students enrolled in the program and found that these TWI students were one to two years ahead of their non-TWI peers in mathematics.

Not surprisingly, other states than North Carolina are looking to these and similar programs to support the achievement of all students. New York City opened over 40 dual language schools recently. And Utah passed a mandate for dual language education, including both foreign language programs and programs for students still learning English.

The reasons for success

So, what is it about the program that makes it so effective?

Academic achievement is enhanced because the curriculum is taught in and through both languages. Students are encouraged to operate at their highest cognitive level, regardless of their language ability.

So, even if you don’t happen to be fluent in the language of instruction (eg, English), you will still receive challenging, grade-level appropriate instruction through your native language.

Moreover, as these second language learners always get to work with multiple role models – the teacher, their more fluent peers, as well as the other second language learners – they are better supported.

The fact that both languages are used for teaching language arts, math, science and so forth also elevates the status of the partner language as a legitimate language for learning. For students whose language at home is not English, this is an important validation of their home culture and languages.

Also, as teachers use the language to teach other subjects such as math or science, students learn to use the language for real purposes, and don’t relate to it just as a set of grammar rules.

Appreciating diversity

The most important aspect of this learning is that each student plays a role in helping other learn the target language while learning themselves.

Through cooperative learning, teachers help TWI students build strong intergroup relationships and create opportunities for students to practice the language. TWI students thus develop an ability to work with students from diverse backgrounds, a prerequisite for today’s workforce.

Given the benefits of dual language education, and two-way immersion programs in particular, one has to wonder why more states are not incorporating these programs.

The ConversationJust as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is part of college and workforce readiness, shouldn’t the ability to use English and a language other than English be considered a must-have for all our students?

Ester J de Jong, Professor of ESOL/Bilingual Education, University of Florida

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

How do children learn a second language?

Posted by Elizabeth García. Infancia y Educación

FACTORS INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS OF LEARNING A SECOND LANGUAGE (when the learners are children ? )

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It is clear the importance it has acquired learning a second language. Since the sixties, numerous scientific publications have empirically tested benefits about begin learning a second language in an early age.

Authors such as Penfield and Roberts (1959) and Lenneberg (1967) speak of early childhood as the critical period to begin the process of learning a second language, while the native language is acquired. Studies show that if children come into contact with the second language of natural, stable and continuous basis – from birth to about three years- it is acquired simultaneously with the mother tongue and the possibilities of handling a second language are higher than if the child has not been exposed to the language. The authors allude to neurobiological, cognitive, affective, motivational,and related to the child’s personality as decisive factors in the process.
Other key factors:

– Didactics. Especially the role of second language teachers, the methodology used, the materials and activities and contents that the teacher proposes.

– Social context in which the child is immersed during this learning process. Especially parents, family and closest friends are referents for the learner. Also the media, books or the toys that children play with are part of the process. Everything counts!

– Time. Learning a second language takes time. Parents sometimes forget this factor and expect miraculous results after a school year or an intensive summer camp. We have to be patient and support them year after year.

 

There are no magic tips.We need to understand that learning a second language is a complex process that requires time and patience. Success will come if our child wants to continue learning the second language throughout his/her life. 

 

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