Thursday, January 12

becoming bilingual...A to Z

We kicked off our 2012 Spring Chalk Talk series last night at the Anaheim Hills campus with an event called "Becoming Bilingual." The event began with a screening of the documentary Speaking in Tongues, which follows the story of four students in San Francisco along their path to learn a second language. The film addresses the American trend towards remaining an "English only" nation, and the limitations that trend will put on future generations in an increasingly global economy. 

After the film, we held an open forum discussion on the topic of language learning facilitated by Krystin Kim, a Fairmont parent and owner of the North Orange County division of Lango; Denise Cabanel-Bleuer, Spanish Professor at Orange Coast College; and Sandy Cosgrove, Fairmont's Director of Education. We were thrilled to have a fantastic audience that posed great questions and offered insight into the importance of language learning for children and adults alike.  

Here are some takeaways from the discussion: 

  • Learning a second language offers students a variety of developmental and cognitive benefits, including: higher self esteem, opportunities to connect with other generations, enhanced cultural awareness, reduced risk of Alzheimers,  and increased job opportunity. All of these benefits increase when students learn more than two languages. 
  • The prime window for language learning begins at birth and closes around age 13, when the child's brain is still developing and language can be absorbed rather than taught in translation mode. 
  • When learning a second language, children learn the most from their friends, not from parents, so parents don't have to fear not knowing the language their child is learning. 

The bottom line? Everyone can and should learn a second language, and the earlier you start, the better!  All Fairmont students begin taking Spanish in first grade, and Fairmont also partners with Lango to offer after school language enrichment starting at the preschool level. Contact your campus Activities Director if you're interested in signing up for Lango classes this term. 

Contributed by Alyssa, Fairmont Private Schools 

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