Why a second language?
The world is and has always been multilingual, regardless of income, age group or class. (Grosjean, 1982; McLaughlin, 1984). One might argue that we evolved to speak more than one language at a time, and in support of this we have scientific evidence that multilingualism strengthens the brain’s executive function and delays the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms.
As recently as the early twentieth century, educated persons were expected to speak (at least) English and French, and read Latin and Greek, besides. Because of the current global prevalence of English, modern Americans tend to downplay the importance of a second language. In Wake County, lower Elementary children are not even offered it as a choice.
Won’t learning a second language slow my child?
No. According to the scientific literature, “there is no evidence at all that an infant who is exposed to two or more languages in the home… will be delayed in any way.’ (Saunders, 1998:51) Some psychologists think that learning a second language may even be “important to qualities like IQ when it comes to getting ahead in life.”
We believe that speaking Spanish will be a critical skill for 21st century Americans. Besides being a key language domestically, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, behind Chinese, and ahead of English.
An official language of the United Nations and the European Union, Spanish is also quickly growing in use. It is estimated that by 2050, 10% of the world will speak Spanish as a first or second language.
A beautiful and expressive tongue, Spanish is the native medium of Miguel de Cervantes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, Octavio Paz, and countless others. Why not give your child a foundation for exploring a world of opinion and literature that never gets translated?
How is Spanish taught at Renaissance Montessori?
Renaissance Montessori is predominantly an English-language school, and we strongly believe in the immersion method of language acquisition. Here is our approach to ensuring that children get a solid foundation in both languages. Lead teachers speak only English in the classroom, and are native English speakers. Our class assistants will speak only Spanish, and are native Spanish speakers.
Lessons are conducted primarily in English, but both the teacher and the assistant are fluent in each other’s primary language. Many materials will be labeled in both English and Spanish, and children are encouraged to converse in both languages. When a child is confused, the teacher and assistant will of course use whichever tongue the child is most comfortable with. Certain times of the day will be set aside for Spanish-language enrichment. We have seen this approach work at other schools, and are excited to bring it to Cary!