Bilingualism and Immersion

Can growing up bilingual/trilingual make my child smarter?

Studies on bilingualism have shown that children at a relatively early age tend to acquire additional languages with the same ease with which they acquire their native language. Developing two languages simultaneously does not inhibit the learning of either.
Young children possess innate strategies of comprehension that enable them to learn a language quite independently of any rational control mechanism. It is now an accepted fact that multilingualism tends not only to promote all cognitive and creative processes but also leads to improved communicative abilities in one’s own native language.
MIS develops our students’ bilingual potential through Early Language Immersion methods.

What is Early Language Immersion?

Early Language Immersion is a method of teaching a second language, in this case, English. MIS students begin their Language Immersion at a very early age, usually by the age of six.
Unlike a more traditional language course, where the target language is simply the subject material, language immersion uses the target language as a teaching tool, surrounding, or "immersing" students in the second language. In-class subjects and activities, such as math, social studies and history, and those outside of the class, such as meals, recess, or everyday tasks, are conducted in the second language.

What are the benefits of Language Immersion and Bi-/Trilingualism?

Children of today will more than likely need to be bilingual or even trilingual to be successful in the global society and economy of their adulthood. Today two languages are useful - tomorrow they will be required, and a third language will be desired.
An optimal time to learn languages is prior to age eleven. Research on brain development in recent decades supports this claim, with wide discussion in the popular media. Our brains are wired to produce all sounds, but if we don't learn to make certain sounds, we can lose that ability.
Children learn language by listening and repeating, and don't have any fear of a "foreign" language. Children learn their second language the same way they learned their first - by speaking and repeating in context. 

Could you provide us with some links from reliable sources to learn more about the advantages of multilingualism?

Absolutely! There are many published articles with a lot of useful information on the subject and the ones below are just some we found particularly interesting. 

Psychology Today – Bilingual Brains, Smarter and Faster
“Recent studies of children who grow up in bilingual settings reveal advantages over single language children, including both increased attentive focus and cognition. The findings correlate with prefrontal cortex brain activity networks, which direct the highest levels of thinking and awareness.

Compared to monolinguals, the studied bilingual children, who had had five to ten years of bilingual exposure, averaged higher scores in cognitive performance on tests and had greater attention focus, distraction resistance, decision-making, judgment and responsiveness to feedback. The correlated neuroimaging (fMRI scans) of these children revealed greater activity in the prefrontal cortex networks directing these and other executive functions. (Bialystok, 2009; Kaushanskaya & Marian, 2007).

 

TIME Magazine – How the Brain Benefits from Being Bilingual
“Well into your grammar-school years, your ability to learn a second — or third or fourth — language is still remarkable.

That, it turns out, is very good for the brain. New studies are showing that a multilingual brain is nimbler, quicker, better able to deal with ambiguities, resolve conflicts and even resist Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia longer. All of this is prompting public schools to implement language-immersion programs for kids as young as kindergarteners.”

 

The New York Times – The Bilingual Advantage
“There’s a system in your brain, the executive control system. It’s a general manager. Its job is to keep you focused on what is relevant, while ignoring distractions. It’s what makes it possible for you to hold two different things in your mind at one time and switch between them.

If you have two languages and you use them regularly, the way the brain’s networks work is that every time you speak, both languages pop up and the executive control system has to sort through everything and attend to what’s relevant in the moment. Therefore the bilinguals use that system more, and it’s that regular use that makes that system more efficient.

Multitasking is one of the things the executive control system handles. We wondered, “Are bilinguals better at multitasking?” So we put monolinguals and bilinguals into a driving simulator. Through headphones, we gave them extra tasks to do — as if they were driving and talking on cellphones. We then measured how much worse their driving got. Now, everybody’s driving got worse. But the bilinguals, their driving didn’t drop as much. Because adding on another task while trying to concentrate on a driving problem, that’s what bilingualism gives you.”

 

more Information about the advantages of true Bilingualism
Teachers.org