Bilingual Schools

Which institute of formal education is most suitable to a child raised in more than one language?

This is a question that only a parent can answer. They must ask themselves rather precisely the following questions:

  • What type of education is desired, a mono-linguistic, bilingual, or rather multi-lingual approach?
  • What types of schools are nearby?
  • Are there schools where the language of instruction is the same as the home language?
  • How far is one willing to drive to attend the school?
  • How much is one willing to pay to enroll the child at the school?
  • Does one desire full immersion in the language or only a few hours per week?

If one has already taken these questions into consideration but has not come to a final conclusion, there are secondary considerations that should be also taken into account.

Positive aspects:

  • A bilingual school promotes booth languages simultaneously.  Reading and Writing has equal weight for both languages; this is the greatest challenge for the mastery of the second language in bilingual families.
  • A bilingual school facilitates the transition to an institute of higher learning, wether the child decides to spend a year abroad or acquire additional qualifications. This can prove beneficial at the start of a career.
  • A bilingual school increases the intercultural communication since the child has more exposure to children with international backgrounds-a huge advantage in our global world.

Negative aspects:

  • When the school is not located in the surrounding area this can reduce the actual free time the child has to devote to other activities.
  • Friends of the child can be scattered all over the city. This can become an additional burden of organizing play dates in the afternoon or the weekends. Spontaneity is reduced.
  • The contact to other children in the neighborhood is limited.
  • The comings and goings of the international families can play havoc on the young life of a child. Friendships are temporary and good friends are hard to keep.

If one has opted for the local school, one should make it a point to seek the teacher out and impress on him/her how one feels about bilinguals. Convey to the teacher the advantages the child will have later in life. Win over the teacher as an ally in the stimulation of the second language: he/she should be able to defend the child in the event teasing or mobbing occurs because of the “different”  language. Attempt to gain the teachers tolerance in any possible overlap with the home language and the language of instruction. This is only a temporary phase until the child catches up to his counterparts. Ask the teacher about any improvements the child may have made in the language and monitor the childs development s. Implement a program for language improvement at home with the aid of a tutor, native speaker, or college student.

Tip: If the decision favors the local school, it is always possible to engage a private tutor for the child or enroll him in a language school to increase the fluency of the second language.

Tip: If you decide teach your child write and read by yourself see “reading and writing“.

Links: International and German Schools in Germany, Spain, other European Countries, Latin America and USA

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