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What the Media is Saying About Multilingual Children

Parents want nannies fluent in another language to help tutor their tots
Many Bay Area parents seek caregivers fluent in another language and culture. The nanny agency Bay Area 2nd Mom in Palo Alto has seen a sharp increase in the last five years in requests for caregivers who speak a language other than English, said co-founder Uday Koppikar.
Helen Riley-Collins, president of Aunt Ann’s In-House Staffing in San Francisco verifies the trend. She said more than half her clients request nannies who speak another language. “Families who are involved in international business are thinking ahead,” she said of her clients, many of whom work in high tech, investment banking or finance. “They want to give their children a head start in business in 20 years.”…

Bilingualism’s Brain Benefits
Bilingual speakers are better able to deal with distractions than those who speak only a single language, and that may help offset age-related declines in mental performance, researchers say.
The team hypothesized that the ability to hold two languages in the mind at the same time, without allowing words and grammar from one to slip into the other, might account for the greater level of focus. An alternate hypothesis is that bilinguals have superior working memories for storing and processing information…

Musing about losing one’s mother tongue
Daniel told me that his mother, who was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States as a child, suffered from racial prejudice in California, much of it because she didn’t speak English. She decided that her children wouldn’t live through the same humiliations; so her children would speak only English.
In retrospect, Daniel understands his mother’s love and motivations, but he still regrets that tough sacrifice. “My mother’s decision hurt us in the long run,” he told me. “When we started working, we discovered that speaking Spanish would have been an advantage for us in the workplace.”…

Half of Europe already multilingual
If well presented statistics is your thing, here you can find numbers and charts galore on who speaks what language in Europe…

Teaching tips are exported
At the Bilingual Biliteracy Conference, teachers said one method that appears to help immigrant children adjust, as bilingual education fades away, is dual immersion instruction. Instead of being classified as remedial learners for speaking Spanish while they learn English, children in such programs are often admired for knowing two languages. ..

Seattle adds another language immersion school
The word sprang from 3-year-old Isabelle as naturally as if she had said “playground” in English. “Spielplatz,” the chubby-cheeked girl said with a wide smile. It was her third day attending Seattle Area German American School (SAGA), and Isabelle was already beginning to pick up on some of the foreign words.
Aside form the French and German private schools, a smattering of programs are also available in public schools, including a dual-language Spanish program, a Spanish immersion programs at three Bellevue schools and in Seattle, John Stanford International School offers dual-language immersion in Spanish or Japanese. There are also numerous Saturday schools or evening schools in the Puget Sound area that give children and adults exposure to other languages and cultures…

Language Use and English-Speaking Ability in USA
In 2000, 18 percent of the total population aged 5 and over, or 47.0 million people, reported they spoke a language other than English at home. These figures were up from 14 percent (31.8 million) in 1990 and 11 percent (23.1 million) in 1980. The number of people who spoke a language other than English at home grew by 38 percent in the 1980s and by 47 percent in the 1990s. While the population aged 5 and over grew by one-fourth from 1980 to 2000, the number who spoke a language other than English at home more than doubled. In 2000, most people who spoke a language other than English at home reported they spoke English “Very well”… (pdf document)

Foreign Language Power
With the Internet, TV and inexpensive travel options bringing families from different countries together daily, many parents want to teach their child a second language. “Knowing a second language can only benefit my sons in the future. They might get a better job, get paid more, have more doors open to them, plus it will enhance their social opportunities,” says Drue Ann Hargis, of California, mom to bilingual 2- and 8-year-old sons…

Language immersion schools prepare students for global economy
Charlotte’s immersion program is on the cutting edge of foreign language education. According to a 2000 study, fewer than 5 percent of U.S. elementary school students receive foreign language instruction of any kind, let alone the full-immersion approach that leads to fluency. The CMS program has become a national model, studied by educators from the U.S. and abroad. The school board deserve kudos for recognizing the need to prepare our children to live and work in a global economy!…

Young children absorb foreign vocabulary as part of everyday life
The world has gone global, and it might benefit children to speak that language. Words that were foreign a few years ago are now part of the everyday vernacular in homes, playgrounds and schools. One nursery school teacher asks her class “Capisce?” after she gives the children a series of directions. Her colleague asks, “Comprende?” It’s not a far-fetched idea for parents to consider raising bilingual children in this environment — whether or not the parents speak a second language themselves. And the kids don’t have to wait for middle school Spanish or French, either…

Preschools Becoming Multilingual Learning Hub
Susan Winchester knew that the foreign-language “classes” her toddler was taking were having an impact one day at the diaper-changing table. She asked Douglas in French, “What color is the sun? He looked up at me with a sparkle in his eye and said, ‘amarillo.’ And it wasn’t a mistake.” “Amarillo” is the Spanish word for yellow, and Douglas Zeller, at 2, was letting his mom know he’s actual trilingual…

The first bilingual state school in England has been approved – with lessons in French and English
Pupils joining the bilingual class in Wix School in Battersea, south London will follow the national curriculum but will study all subjects in both languages throughout the primary school. Wandsworth Council says it is responding to parents’ desire for their children to learn languages at a younger age, and wants to offer children the chance to become bilingual early in life…

Music and Multiculturalism in the Middle East
Internationally acclaimed Rim Banna, a Palestinian singer born in Nazareth, has a multilingual and multicultural home: She talks with the children – a girl of 12 and 3-year-old twins – in Arabic, and Alexeienko talks with them in Russian. Rim almost lost her Hebrew during her years of studying in Moscow: “Somehow the Russian pushed it aside,” she says, “but now I am getting it back for myself, with the help of my daughter, who is learning Hebrew at school”…

When Víctor started kindergarten he didn’t understand what the other children were saying
Six years later, Víctor, who is now 11, feels he can speak English as well as Spanish, his native tongue. “Now you have young persons graduating from high school who can speak both English and Spanish,” said Kimberly Newton, principal of Rio Altura. “Don’t you think that businesses want to tap into that? It’s incredible. That’s where business opportunities lie”…

Watch Out – Even China is Going Multilingual
To satisfy the growing demand by thousands of Shanghainese to learn a foreign language, training courses are springing up around town. The enthusiasm for multilingual skills bodes well for the country and city as the 2008 Olympic Games and 2010 World Expo draw nearer, surprisingly pre-school children are also joining the third language craze. Many parents want their child to get a head start in a foreign language, to reap the benefits of being multilingual…

Hot Types – Trend Setting in Advertising Land
Michael Guy of the Atlas Talent Agency in Manhattan notes that the call for Latino performers is not restricted to Spanish-language commercials for cable. He points to a series of mainstream Verizon ads that feature an Anglo dad, a Latina mom, and bilingual children. “I don’t think that’s something we’d have seen five years ago, never mind 10,” he says…

English Ebbs As World Language
The idea that English will become the world language is outdated. Instead, its major contribution will be in creating new generations of bilingual and multilingual speakers, a British language expert says in a new analysis. English-only speakers may find it difficult to fully participate in a multilingual society…

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