Early Language at PWA

At Prince William Academy we believe that in the global world in which our children are growing up, it is crucial to provide them with the skills that they will need to take an active and responsible role in the world.

By living and going to school in a region rich with cultural opportunities, our students have the chance to access vibrant cosmopolitan cities in which visitors from many countries interact, share their cultures and participate in discussion and policy development.

By offering children early exposure to a diverse array of cultural experiences and instruction in other languages, our goal is that PWA students will broaden their horizons, gain stronger commitments to their own cultural heritages, and be ready to play an active role in a global future.

At PWA we believe that it is crucial for all children to have the opportunity to gain fluency in more than one language and culture. Not only does language learning support academic achievement and provide cognitive benefits to students, it affects attitudes and beliefs about language learning and provides entry to other cultures.  Beginning at age two, our students study Spanish each day in addition to a world language selected by their parents.  This year we are offering Mandarin, Arabic, and French.  Our goal will be to introduce Farsi and Urdu in the future as our school community needs dictate.

There is a large body of research demonstrating that language learning provides students with academic advantages.[1]  The American Council of Teaching Foreign Language (ACTFL) has compiled an extensive body of research on the benefits of dual-language instruction programs. The research, grounded in historical context and current literature, notes that students who learn a second language have increased student achievement results compared to peers, improved cognitive skills, and overall positive attitudes for other cultures.

Counter-intuitively perhaps, it is clear that time spent learning a second language bolsters the learning of the first language too, as students, especially young children, develop cognitive tools that allow them to apply lessons from one language directly to the second.  To achieve bi-literacy and ensure competence in cross-cultural communication, Prince William Academy aims to instruct students in the two languages beginning at age two, making the most of the innate ability of young children to learn language, and contributing to their increased cognitive skills and higher achievement in other academic areas.[2]  Our effort from preschool through eighth grade promotes bi-literacy, grade-level academic achievement, and positive cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors in all students.[3]

A growing body of research indicates that language instruction provides multiple advantages to students, including:

·       Students achieve well above grade level, even years after their participation.
·       Students become proficient in another language and develop deeper cultural awareness.
·       Non-native English speakers and native English speakers in instruction programs perform as well as or better than their peers educated in other types of programs.  For example, both native Spanish speakers and native English speakers in instruction programs perform better than their peers both on English standardized achievement tests and Spanish standardized achievement tests.

There is also evidence that early language learning improves cognitive abilities and that bilingualism correlates with increased cognitive development and abilities.[4] There is also a correlation between bilingualism and attentional control on cognitive tasks. Furthermore, a correlation between bilingualism and intelligence and between bilingualism and meta-linguistic skills, memory skills, problem solving ability and improved verbal and spatial abilities exists.[5]

Culture is an integral part of language learning, as the language provides a window into that culture and offers students the opportunity to engage actively with it. Research demonstrates that learning a target language helps young children develop positive attitudes to that language and the people who speak it.[6]   At Prince William Academy, students view second language learning and the insights gained into another culture as a normal part of their schooling.  

At Prince William Academy, language acquisition is not just about learning a new language or being able to communicate with another person in a different language.  Cultural understanding and an ability to compete globally is what drives our intensive language studies and compliment our robust curriculum.

Learn more about our friends at Prince William Academy here.  PWA is an advertiser on PwcMoms.com.

Armstrong, P. W., & Rogers, J. D. (1997). Basic skills revisited: The effects of foreign language instruction on reading, math, and language arts. Learning Languages, 2(3), 20-31
Johnson, C. E., Flores, J. S., & Eillson, F. P. (1963). The effect of foreign language instruction on basic learning in elementary schools: A second report. The Modern Language Journal, 47(1), 8-11.
Turnbull, M., Hart, D., & Lapkin, S. (2003). Grade 6 French instruction students’ performance on large-sclar reading, writing, and mathematics tests: Building explanations.  AlbertaJournal of Educational Research, 49(1), 6-23. From PsychINFO database.
[2] Stewart, J.H., Foreign Language Study in Elementary Schools: Benefits and Implications for Achievement in Early Childhood, Education Journal, 2005, 33(1), pp. 11-16.
[3] Dual Language Education of New Mexico, available at http://www.dlenm.org/archive/2007/dlenm/101.html.
[4] Foster, K. M., & Reeves, C. K. (1989). Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES) improves cognitive skills. FLES News, 2(3), 4.
[5] Bamford, K. W., & Mizokawa, D. T. (1991). Additive-bilingual (instruction) education: Cognitive and language development. Language Learning, 41(3), 413-429. From ERIC database.
[6] Bamford, K. W., & Mizokawa, D. T. (1989). Cognitive and attitudinal outcomes of an additive-bilingual program. U.S.; Washington:  ED305826
[6] Morgan, C. (1993) ‘Attitude change and foreign language culture learning’ in Language Teaching, 26 (2), pp. 63-75.

No comments:

Post a Comment