Articles for Teachers
There is a preponderance of evidence that points to the benefits of children learning English as a second language. However, choosing to raise a bilingual child is something that requires a great deal of thought, preparation, and time. As a result, it is a decision that is very personal and will affect the child's life for years to come. The following paragraphs will explain the benefits of children learning English as a second language and how online English courses provide what other programs may lack.
According to "The Sociopolitics of English Language Teaching" by Joan Kelly Hall and William G. Eggington, "Individuals who speak English gain a concrete economic advantage. English provides increased educational and employment opportunities.
By encouraging children to learn English as a second language early on, we are setting them up for a number of advantages that will carry out through the rest of their lives. The 2002 U.S. Census indicates that approximately 14% (more than 7.5 million) children between the ages of 5 and 17 are fluent in more than one language, and this number is expected to increase in the coming years.
However, the benefits of learning English reach beyond economic, educational, and employment advantages. It also increases a child's linguistic abilities because bilingual children are better able to comprehend the complexities associated with a particular language's meaning and grammar. Since some words across various languages share a similar pronunciation and vocabulary, the connection is made for children early on and makes learning a new language more attainable. In addition, children who learn English as a second language are able to expand their vocabulary across both languages at a faster rate than their mono-linguistic peers.
Due to the expanded vocabulary and thorough understanding of multiple language structures, it is believed that these children are also able to function on a more creative level, experience increased attention levels with the ability to block out distractions, exhibit superior reaction time, and prevent the decline of cognitive reasoning later in life. It is believed that the areas of the brain that are involved in understanding and communicating in two languages on a consistent basis are the same areas of the brain that are affected in most forms of cognitive reasoning. As this area of the brain is strengthened, the bilingual child is able to develop at a faster and improved rate as compared to mono-linguistic individuals.
Bilingual children also develop enhanced social skills. Social interaction is a critical part of our lives and affects the quality of life within society, educationally, and professionally. As a child learns another language and culture they become more deeply integrated into the community, and as they progress through life they are able to communicate at a higher level on all levels. As the child looks back and remembers the challenges that they faced while learning English, they are able to relate to the sensitive issues and struggles that other people who speak less well encounter. This commonality gives the bilingual individual a sense of compassion for others. In addition, bilingual individuals are generally more balanced and comfortable in a multi-cultural environment.
Online English courses have benefits that traditional classroom methods don't offer. For instance, with an online English class the parent and child are able to use this as a time to strengthen and expand the learning process. This way the child truly experiences a bilingual lifestyle as the parent and child are both able to communicate in English as well as their native tongue on a consistent basis.
Additionally, Online English classes enable the parent to encourage the child to pursue their areas of interest pertaining to the English language and culture. Some Online English courses enable the child to watch movies, play games, and learn about geography or food that is common in English speaking countries. Being able to decide upon the curriculum that they will find most beneficial is rewarding, enjoyable, and less stressful than a traditional classroom method.
Another benefit of learning English through an online class is that the child is able to experience the freedom associated with learning another language and culture within their own home. Being thrown into another culture or a classroom full of new faces can be intimidating for many children. On the other hand, being able to learn at their own pace enables them to gain the confidence necessary before entering the community or traveling to the United States.
There are numerous benefits of raising a bilingual child. Some of these include: economic, educational, and employment advantages as well as increased linguistic and creative abilities, improved attention levels with the ability to block out distractions, better reaction time, enhanced social skills, and prevention of the declination of cognitive reasoning later in life. By encouraging bilingualism with online English courses, the following benefits can be experience: strengthened parent-child relationships as they learn together, less stress, a positive and rewarding learning environment, as well as increased freedom to structure the curriculum around his/her own interests.