The Intellectual Vitamin for Kids: Dual Language Preschool

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Dual language learning in preschool helps builds executive function, empathy, cognitive flexibility, cultural connections, and fluency.

 

Executive Function

Executive Function is often stronger in bilingual children. When kids are learning two languages, they really have to focus on which language to speak in the moment. Saying "Goodbye" to Mom and then "Boker Tov" (Hebrew for “good morning”) to your teacher demands close attention! This kind of fluid interaction improves their ability to switch from one task to another. “Task-switching” is a core building block for developing strong executive functioning skills like paying attention, organizing and planning, focus, and self-monitoring.

Empathy

Young dual language learners have to follow social cues to figure out which language to use and in what setting. This helps build empathy and social engagement skills. In basic social-emotional skills testing, bilingual children as young as three often score higher than their monolingual peers.

Cognitive Flexibility

Children’s brains are like sponges! They are constantly creating connections among different symbols, words, and concepts. Because we know that learning and speaking more than one language makes the brain more flexible, dual language classrooms help to further expand children's mental skills. Specifically in areas like visual problem-solving, pattern recognition, abstract thinking, and logic.

Cultural Connections

Through dual language learning, preschoolers effortlessly develop an understanding of–and deep familiarity with–two cultures. This helps to strengthen their own identities, creates a sense of belonging, and inspires cultural curiosity.

Improved Fluency

Studies have shown that after the age of seven, children start to lose the natural ability to reproduce new sounds. This makes second language acquisition slower and more difficult. The ideal way for a child to learn additional languages is continuous, regular exposure, but this isn’t always possible. For this reason, introducing languages in the early childhood years of education is the best way to make the most of this innate ability.


Thanks to our article sponsor, The Early Childhood Center at Congregation Beth Elohim; a preschool that fosters growth, curiosity, and self-esteem.