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The Benefits of Learning Another Language

The Benefits of Learning Another Language

In a city like Vancouver you can hear dozens of languages being spoken. It’s no surprise, then, that there are many Vancouverites who speak two, three or more languages, including young children. Many families who speak only one language choose to expose their child to another language, whether through French or Mandarin Immersion, private language instruction, or hiring a childcare provider who speaks another language. But what are the benefits of learning another language for young children? We recently connected with Isabelle Ankenman, Head Teacher at Vancouver Bilingual Preschool, which teaches children the French language, to find out.

Learning Another Language in Early Childhood

Isabelle, who is now in her 20th year with the preschool shares, “I grew up speaking several languages, and it just came to me naturally. I felt it was important to be able to speak another language, and I wanted to pass that on to children. For me being a preschool teacher is the best place for learning another language. I really feel that the younger you start children off in a second language the more proficient they can become.”

According to research from Cornell University, learning another language has positive and lasting benefits for young children. Those benefits include better focus and improved academic success. Also, contrary to popular preconceptions, learning another language does not detract from the first language. Bilingual children understand English grammar just as well as monolingual children.

A Fun and Playful Approach

Many of the children at Vancouver Bilingual Preschool are already bilingual, speaking English and another language, and for them French is a third language. There are also a small number of francophone children, as well. Regardless of whether your child speaks only one language or four, the preschool aims to engage them all through a fun and age appropriate curriculum. Isabelle shares, “We make it very playful. It’s always done in a very fun and playful way. We use songs to reinforce it, our stories are in French, and we use a lot of visual aids to help them understand what we’re talking about.”

Vancouver Bilingual Preschool isn’t immersion – your three-year-old won’t come home after the first week speaking French fluently. Rather, they will be slowly building their language skills in fun ways. The school sets aside periods of program time when they get a lot of French vocabulary and use the words in short sentences, as well as singing French songs and hearing French stories. For four-year-olds, the teachers speak in French much more, and the children learn to understand them. It’s a good grounding in a second language, which can then be built on if parents pursue French Immersion in kindergarten.

“I Love Watching Them Learn and Grow”learning another language vancouver bilingual preschool

While the Vancouver Bilingual Preschool offers the benefits of learning another language, it also focuses on the same things as any other preschool. Specifically, children develop socially, emotionally and academically. Isabelle shares, “I love it when the things we’ve been imparting to the children, teaching them their social skills, when they are able to start using it without our guidance. I love their enthusiasm for learning. They come running to the door and they just want in. Especially for the four year olds, their friends are so important to them. I love watching them learn and grow.”

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If you’re still on the hunt for a preschool for this fall, the Vancouver Bilingual Preschool is located in the Oakridge neighbourhood, and they are currently accepting enrolment for the coming fall for three-year-olds.

Vancouver Bilingual Preschool
949 West 49th Avenue, Vancouver, 607-261-1221

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