English already in kindergarten?
In principle, every human being has the ability to learn several languages. Therefore, it is absolutely appropriate for children to learn a second or third language as early as kindergarten. The child’s native language spoken at home should be developed in accordance with the child’s age, but a special linguistic talent is not required beyond that.
Scientific studies show that the immersion method allows for more effective absorption of the new language than traditional foreign language instruction. Therefore, at Villa Luna we follow the recommendations of the “Association for Early Multilingualism in Day Care Centers and Schools” (http://www.fmks-online.de) and work with one English-speaking team member per group.
Bilingualism at Villa Luna Hamburg
Children who grow up bilingual develop a variety of skills and so-called soft skills that prepare them in the best possible way for the diverse demands of the 21st century. At Villa Luna Hamburg, we introduce the English language to the children using the immersion method, which is based on the principle of “one person, one language”. For this purpose, an English-speaking team member is present in each group who speaks English exclusively with children, parents and colleagues. If this staff member is addressed in German, he/she responds in English. The English-speaking staff member always supports his/her words with facial expressions, gestures and, if necessary, visual aids such as picture cards. This ensures that the children can independently understand the content of what is being said from the context.
In this way, the English language flows naturally into everyday kindergarten life: language opportunities are created without typical teaching situations and each child acquires the language at its own pace. This is also referred to as a language bath in which the children are immersed.
Advantages of bilingualism in childhood
Bilingualism gives children on the one hand the ability to express themselves in two languages, and on the other hand a generally strengthened language competence. The basis for learning other languages is strengthened by growing up bilingually. Some children not only develop their own language skills, but also enjoy acting as translators and passing on what they have learned.
It has also been proven that knowledge of foreign languages promotes mental development. On the one hand, children’s ability to concentrate is enhanced, and on the other, they find it easier to grasp several thoughts at the same time or to switch back and forth between two different ideas. In this way, the ability to think flexibly expands, so that children can find creative solutions to problems more quickly, for example.
Emotional development is also strengthened by growing up bilingually. The children find it easier to put themselves in the shoes of people with communication problems and develop empathetic solutions in this regard. Some of our English-speaking professionals have grown up bilingual themselves and with different cultural backgrounds. By incorporating festivals and other cultural customs into the daily routine of the daycare center, the children gain an increased awareness and understanding of other ways of life, cultures and values. Tolerance and openness to the world thus become part of the child’s living environment from an early age.