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Kimberly Thouviner Vangol

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How do you feel teachers should teach multiple languages simultaneously? How many languages are too many for primary school aged children?

As an international school teacher, I am sometimes split in my teaching theories when teaching languages. For the past five years, I have been teaching in English to children from all over the world. These children come with different language capabilities. The way our school is set up now is the homeroom classroom is primarily in English, but students are allowed to converse with another student in their mother tongue. If the child in my homeroom has no to little English ability they get EAL (English as another language) support by special classes focused on teaching English from an EAL teacher. Once the child meets the language continuum criteria they are removed from the EAL class, get intermediate support in the homeroom class and during this time they also begin to learn the host countries native language.
I am concerned because here the child is just learning English, gets somewhat of a grasp on the language and is then introduced to another language. So now this child is gaining understanding in English but is now being expected to start the process over again with another language.
This is where my concern lies because I know how intelligent and resilient students are but I sometimes wonder: Shouldn't the child get a full grasp and understanding of one language before having to start another? I also see that learning a language is a educational tool as well and now that they developed the skill of knowing how to learn a language they are more likely to grasp the concept. So as an educator I feel torn especially for Asian and Arabic students that are learning a new alphabet system as well.
I would love positive feedback on studies, research, and teaching practice from other international communities. I am interested in researching proactive teaching for global language learning. My goal is to see how others are practicing and what has been successful. This will help with my implementation on language learning for my students. Thank you

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    Apr 15 2014: Kimberly, I think it would be absolutely great.. It is not only beneficial to learn different languages when children are still very young - but also the only best way. When we are very young we are the most fantastic imitators, especially in terms of language, mannerism, even mentality. We do lose these abilities as we grow up.


    Can you re-post your great TOPIC? because I see this existing one is about to expire.

    Thank you!
  • Apr 15 2014: I think it depends upon the age you start at. I know many who started at k handled multiple languages quite easily. Learning multiple languages, even at an older age, forces the mind to become more flexible and opens up many possibilities of different thought processes.
  • Apr 15 2014: "I am concerned because here the child is just learning English, gets somewhat of a grasp on the language and is then introduced to another language. So now this child is gaining understanding in English but is now being expected to start the process over again with another language.
    This is where my concern lies because I know how intelligent and resilient students are but I sometimes wonder: Shouldn't the child get a full grasp and understanding of one language before having to start another?"

    You are right this should be the process . But even if one wants to teach multiple languages then it shouldn't be more than 3 and also it should go in parallel. In India a student generally learns two languages one is Hindi the national language and the Second is the English . And some schools teach three languages , the third one is the language of the community to which the student belongs to. But , all the two or three languages are taught simultaneously.
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      Apr 16 2014: I'd add the following to your excellent comment. :-) :-)

      I think that when we learn more than one language we do much better while comparing - lots of sounds and even mentality can be similar, therefore we memorize the words and the meanings of them faster.

      Our memory is all about this process of instinctive comparison. In case if the languages are sounding drastically different we also compare them with our first language, it helps understand other cultures and even their mentality much better this way, while comparing.