The importance of investing in a bilingual education for your child

As savvy parents, we want the best for our children. In an increasingly competitive and globalised world, this means investing in a suitable educational programme that will help them gain valuable 21st century skills. One such programme is bilingual education.

More than just learning a second language

A bilingual education has many benefits. Aside from teaching an additional language, it also nurtures global citizens who are interested in global issues, understand their place in the wider world, appreciate diverse values, play an active role in their community and work with other people to create a more peaceful, sustainable and fairer world. By learning a second language, students are able to understand a culture different from their own and gain valuable insights at the same time. These global citizens are employable and future-proof graduates as well, because they are able to cross cultural borders and gain access to new opportunities with their communication skills.

Ahead of the monolingual competition

But that’s not all. Research has shown that bilinguals perform better in stroop tasks[1] than monolinguals so this means they are better equipped to multitask, focus on high level tasks and solve complex problems creatively. The reason for this is simple. Although it sounds like a chore for your brain to juggle different languages, it actually improves the brain regions that are responsible for cognitive functions. This helps bilinguals (or multilinguals for that matter) to have better memories, come up with innovative solutions and become more perceptive of their surroundings.

According to the World Economic Forum, complex problem solving is one of the top ten skills needed to excel in today’s global economy. In other words, being able to speak more than one language opens doors to international universities and job opportunities in the future. Sounds good to us!

Starting your child early in bilingual education also makes it easier for him or her to master fluency in a second language. After all, children’s brains are not as cluttered with complex information such as grammatical rules so they are able to absorb knowledge more quickly.

Slows down age-related cognitive decline

If you want just one good reason to raise a bilingual child, then this is it. Learning an additional language is believed to slow down age-related cognitive decline. It may not be able to stop Alzhiemer’s disease altogether but this study finds that speaking two languages could delay the onset by up to five years.

Bilingual education in the classroom

As the name suggests, a bilingual education involves the learning of two languages in the classroom. It can be taught in three ways:

  • Total immersion: the entire lesson is delivered in the second language
  • Partial immersion: half the lesson time is spent learning the second language
  • Dual immersion: English and the second language are used as the language of instruction; subject matter is not repeated across content delivered in different languages

If you think that dual immersion is the best way to go, you are right. Students do not take a class to specifically learn a language in small increments, they also learn subjects like science and math at the same time. The bilingual programmes at CIS, for instance, are fully aligned with the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) and they take the transdisciplinary route. This means that students are not only mastering a second language, they are also making real-world connections by building new concepts and skills across different disciplines.

A proven track record

Chinese and French are among the top 10 languages spoken in the world, which is why it’s not surprising that CIS has two bilingual programmes: Chinese-English Bilingual Programme and French-English Bilingual Programme. CIS’s Chinese-English bilingual programme was one of the first to be offered in Singapore by an international school. Students are given equal exposure to both English and Chinese with two qualified teachers—one native English speaker and one native Chinese speaker. There is no translation or repetition so students are fully immersed in the language they are learning. The same goes for its French-English bilingual programme.

CIS’s established track record makes it one of the most experienced and trusted international schools in the region to educate students in becoming fluent communicators in two languages so if you want find out more about its bilingual programmes, don’t forget to visit its website or drop its admissions team an inquiry.

Remember, the early bird gets the worm so make sure you give your child an early start in bilingual education!