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Is it really important for our children to learn two or more languages?


BY CARLOTA MENDOZA-IGLESIAS




 learn two or more languages

When I had my two daughters in the USA, a foreign country for me and for my husband; we wondered if it was better for them to speak only English at home, in order to prepare them for entering school and not feel isolated and/or at a disadvantage with their peers. I began by asking the pediatrician who advised me to try to use only one language in their upbringing, English, so that later at school they could take the foreign language of their choice. But using my experience as educator and based on the latest research into the most interesting human organ, the brain, I decided to delve into the topic, which I have been passionate about for more than 30 years.

 

Brain studies agree that learning one or more languages ​​is the best way to increase intelligence by stimulating the executive function of the brain, and therefore helps the individual focus and retain information. People who speak two or more languages ​​are more efficient in making decisions and executing more than one task at the same time, “multitasking.” Neurologists recommend to older people the learning a new language to help reestablish lost neural connections in the brain and thus avoid or delay senile dementia. It's like a gym session for the brain! Learning two or more languages ​​makes the individual think in a different way and generally becomes more understanding of cultural and personal differences which makes the individual an asset for better scholar and jobs opportunities.


There is an immense number of activities that you can use with your children to help them learn a second language. For example, songs, movies, games and especially practicing the language at home. If you don't have the time or patience, find someone that you trust, like a family member, neighbor, teacher, etc. who you could ask to teach your children the language grammar through fun educational games, reading and writing activities. Start by having a home library stocked with books that may interest your children and attend foreign language reading activities at school or the public library. Look for cultural celebration activities in your area such as Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, cultural presentations from different embassies and consulates, etc. Yes, you can do it!

 

As the years go by and I see with my own eyes the “miracles” of bilingualism in our daughters, I can confidently assure you that it is a necessary battle to win. Well, you have to be very consistent and patient when your children don't want to speak a second language because “it's not cool” and all their friends don't speak it. That's when you cannot give up!  Start with establishing guidelines for communication at home, watch TV in the target language together, play videos or games online; take trips that give your children other cultural perspectives, including visits to the family which are wonderful strategies for learning the language you want your children to learn.

 

Today, there are so many low-cost resources and opportunities in the schools for your children to benefit from two or more languages. I can definitively assure you; they will thank you in the future! In my case, I can happily share that I am already living that future. Contact the author: Carlota Mendoza-Iglesias

Phone: 407-493-4222

 


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