Bilingual Education

Bilingual Education

The key to developing global citizens is a blingual education. However, being bilingual at SIS is not defined solely by being able to speak two languages. Upholding the 4Rs of our core values, cultural background, and other factors comprise a “bilingual” individual.

Global context

“Many more children throughout the world have been, and continue to be, educated via a second or a later acquired language…than the number of children educated exclusively via first language.” (Tucker, 1999)

It is our belief that the acquisition of multiple languages during childhood leads to flexibile thought, ability to adapt to other cultures, better understanding of speech and analytical skills. These enrich a child not only culturally but intellectually, and are essential qualities in a globally minded citizen.

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Language Education

Ages 2 to 6 Years

During the initial kindergarten years, students will master basic interpersonal communication skiills. This means that students will attain langauge abilities needed to interact socially at the playground, lunch room, playing sports, or even during mat time. Social interactions are usually context embedded and they occur in a meaningful social context. These language skills usually develop within 3~4 years. We do not pressure students to speak a certain language but rather have them choose a language that they wish to communicate their thoughts and ideas. However the medium that the teachers use in classroom is English (except for Japanese class).

Grade School

Upon reaching grade school, students will transition into formal academic learning. This includes listening, speaking, reading and writing about subject area content material. Academic language acquisition isn’t just the understanding of content area vocabulary, but requires students to be able to apply higher thinking skills. This includes skills such as comparing, classifying, synthesizing, evaluating, and inferring. Therefore students need time and support to become proficient and may take from five to seven years to master. However, research suggests that a student’s social emotional skills are intimately linked with his/her acqusition of a second language. Therefore at school we make sure that student’s social and emotional development are concurrently developed.
Classes are held either in Japanese or English, with 80% of class being held in English.

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Language ratio

Outlined below is the ratio that English and Japanese is ultilized in the class from Kindergarten through 6th grade. Please be aware that this doesnt include extracurricular activities

Grade levelJAPANESE(L1)ENGLISH(L2)
Kindergarten90%10%
Grade 170%30%
Grade 270%30%
Grade 360%40%
Grade 460%40%
Grade 550%50%
Middle School50%50%

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Benifits of bilingualism

Early language immersion improves overall academic achievement. It enhances brain development, memory and cognitive learning. Many studies have proven that bilingual students outperform monolingual students on standardized tests.

Scientific research has also shown that foreigh language learning increases social development such as communication and listening skills.

Bilingualism promotes awareness, appreciation and acceptance of other peoples and cultures. Dual language speakers become more flexible thinkers and exhibit greater nonverbal problem solving abilities.

The student becomes more aware of ones own hertiage and language and gives a new perspective of their own identify.

Students are better perpared to fully function in a globalized society.

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Myths&misconceptions

MYTH 1Will learning a foreign language confuse my child?
FACTThis is the most common myth regarding bilingual education. According to research, even a newborn is able to differentiate between two completely differently languages, such as Japanese and French. For similiar languages like Japanese and Korean, differentiation may take about six months. There are some who believe teaching two languages simultaneously creates confusion, but research has shown that children are able to differentiate languages at a very early stage.
MYTH 2Will a bilingual education cause my child to learn language slower?
FACTChildren receiving a bilingual education may start speaking later than other children. However, Ellen Kester, CEO of Bilinguistics, Texas, has suggested that there is no evidence that children receiving a bilingual education start speaking later, nor is there evidence that bilingual education hinders language acquisition.
MYTH 3Will being bilingual mean my child will mix the two languages, not be able to differentiate between them, or hinder proper grammar?
FACTAnyone who speaks more than one language has probably had the experience of accidentally mixing languages in conversation. Multilingual speakers may even employ English vocabulary with Japanese grammar, creating a particular language in of itself! When children mix languages, this proves that they are learning, and this is a stage towards acquiring bilingualism. This is not a speech impediment, but a means to better express themselves using whatever skills that they have. Children with parents who mix languages often mimic this speech, and it is important not to classify this as a mistake or negative trait.
MYTH 4Bilingualism is an exception.
FACTBilingualism shouldn’t be seen as an exception, it should be seen as the norm. Most of the world is actually bilingual. With more and more marriages between people from different countries, it is very common to have two or more languages spoken within a relationship or home. Some African nationals understand and speak five languages! Although it is hard to get precise statistics due to the flexibility of the definition and the consideration of many of the local dialects around the world, the estimates place around 60% to 75% of the world as bilingual (Baker, 2000). Moreover, bilingualism is on the rise and in most places of the world it is becoming more and more common.
MYTH 5My child will just pick up the language if he hears it.
FACTPeople often think that children will pick up languages if they’re simply exposed to them. However research shows that it takes consistency, commitment, and creative reinforcements, inside and outside the home, for children to learn and maintain a second language.

※参照: Roxana A. Soto

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