Since our founding in 2007, our parents have asked "Why do we speak only English when we apply our program?" or they are curious about the answers to many questions about being bilingual. First of all, we would like to remind you that the most active period of learning a language is between the ages of 0-6, as well as other aspects of development in children. With our program we are raising our children to be bilingual by providing a suitable environment, facilities and a team of staff to make the best use of this important time in our children’s growth. In addition to English, we have also added German as a second language to our program since 2014.
If you wish, you can also read what we wrote for you about being “Bilingual”.
BILINGUAL and MULTILINGUAL
People who function well in two languages are defined as bilingual and multilingual for those who function in more than two. Bilingual education can either be simultaneous or consecutive.
Simultaneous bilingualism happens when a baby grows up and learns to function simultaneously in two languages. Parents whose mother languages are different use this method. While the mother uses one language with her baby, the father uses another language. Or working parents (whose mother tongue is the same) uses one language, while the caretaker uses a different language. In fact, babies can grow up as multilingual by being exposed to 3 languages at the same time, from birth. Consecutive bilingualism happens when the second language is learned after the mother tongue has already been established. This method can be applied between the ages 2 and 3. By using one language at home and a second language at school, a child of this age may also be bilingual or multilingual.
WHAT IS THE IDEAL AGE TO BECOME BILINGUAL?
Research carried out over the last 45 years keeps demonstrating that the ideal age for learning a second language or becoming bilingual is from birth or at least during the pre-school years. This is because a brain of a human being is programmed to learn languages after birth, like a bird is programmed to sing and a fish is programmed to swim. The most active period for learning languages is up to 6 years old. After 6 years old this capability decreases until adolescence and almost finishes after this period. A child has a better chance in becoming a balanced bilingual, if he/she has learnt the language until 6 years old in a natural, effort free way, forming part and parcel of the child’s general development and growth.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES IN LEARNING A SECOND LANGUAGE AT A YOUNG AGE?
*There are great advantages in learning a second language from very young: In pre-school years, language is learned through play and enjoyment just as the first language is learned in a natural way. There are no pressures on performance and children's innate curiosity and strong desire to communicate facilitate further the language development process. Small kids do not learn vocabulary like adults. They do not think the words as a translation of the other language. For the kids learning a language, vocabulary means assigning synonyms. This is not difficult for them. It is a game and children love to play anytime and anyplace. * Bilingual kids soon realize how many ways something can be described, they tend to play with language which increases their creativity. * Increased life span. The child will not need to spend four years studying a second language, and can use this extra time in more interesting ways. *Some people are more talented for learning foreign languages. However, scientific studies have shown that during the primary years, capability for language learning is especially strong. It means for the young ages talent is not very necessary.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BILINGUALISM
Do the parents need to speak English?
Absolutely not! Even parents who speak English as a second language, are discouraged from switching into English on the basis that there has been a psychological bond between the child and the parent through their mother tongue, since birth. Switching languages may cause a psychological trauma and most of the times the child will refuse to communicate in any other language, than in that used since the beginning. We only encourage parents to give English language support by sharing their school experiences in English by looking at books, reading stories, listening to songs and singing together, having English videos at home (if videos(screen) are allowed by their parents) and so on, if their children want to do so. However, it is quite possible that the child may still refuse to use the school language at home. This is often explained by the fact that school forms very much a part of the child’s zone where no "intruders" are allowed. Please show understanding! It is not a requirement to use English at home.
Will learning the second language delay the acquisition of the first language or cause language problems?
There is no evidence in all the existing research so far that would give support to any of the above fears. The simultaneous acquisition of two languages from birth may in some cases delay language production. For example, where a monolingual child may start speaking at approximately the age of 2, a bilingual child may start at the age of 2 and half. However, evidence shows that they soon bridge the gap, with the added bonus of speaking two languages instead of one!
Which phases can occur at the stage of learning a second language?
Of course there is not one right thing for every child. Development stage of the second language depends on the child’s characteristics and the type of learning. A common phase is that some of the bilingual children go through a developmental stage, of first mixing the two languages. For example they might use words from two languages in the same sentence or might mix grammar rules. However they soon learn to differentiate between them.
A very rare phase is, that some of the bilingual children may not talk too much for a while when a second language is newly introduced. The children are recording everything they hear at this stage, after at most a few months, they start to use words from both languages. It is also considered as a natural process that children do not prefer to speak the second language very much, when they are first introduced to it.