Kids, Language & Brains

13May/17Off

“English Only” Isn’t Wrong; It’s Simply Unfair to Children I

Children have a natural talent for languages. While this was supposedly explained by the claim that all language stems from a  single universal grammar we're born with, that view hasn't stood the test of time. Still, adults continue to be amazed by and and even envious of the uncanny ability of children to pick up other languages so easily.  So what's wrong with simply accepting the dominance of English in the world and letting English-only speaking kids slip by as monolinguals?  Research results tell us that bilingual brains are more resilient and resist going into decline with the natural process of aging.  That's a big factor that needs to be recognized and taken advantage of when children are still young enough to benefit from the readiness of their brains to take in, make sense of and use a language other than their mother tongue.  As they use and continue to use another language as part of their regular means of connecting with family and peers, that language or those languages become part of them and will stay with them.  Here at home our kids can benefit from the presence of many 1st and 2nd generation Spanish speakers for practicing and perfecting their 2nd language skills.   TV and radio provide more easy access to Spanish.  It's really an opportunity that shouldn't be wasted. It is said that even children growing up in non-English speaking families will hold on to their mother-tongue for only a generation or two.  After that, unless our culture begins to value bilingualism, it will be too easy to act as if getting along in English is enough.

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