There has been much discussed and debated on the merits and benefits of learning a second language while still young and of growing up in a bi-lingual (learning) environment. Well, it depends on your personal preference for use of language. Creating a bi-lingual or multi-lingual language environment means there are choices, diversity and variety, but also confusion, stunted or even a delay in maturity of lingual ability.
Since your brain matter and energy are spread between more than one point of lingual focus for development, then of course there will be trade-offs. The point here is for the student to tune into and acknowledge their own level of interest and willingness to work for the result they want.
For those that use the same variety of content, vocabulary or detail of language again and again, the learning of more than one language is stimulating. For those that seek a more literal depth and greater use of vocabulary should really inhibit any desire to grow more than two languages substantially – even then, it is one at a time.
To not have clear reference points and abilities in one primary language can restrict further development later on in life, because our brains gets stuck and confused with lingual overload i.e. it becomes exhausted from having to pick and choose which language and words to use. However, greater exposure to languages is never a terrible thing.
As one matures, so does one’s need for language usage. How do we appreciate this? By stepping outside of what we already know and are comfortable with i.e. by expanding our horizons.
Here follows the China Daily’s article…
“BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN CULTURES:
LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE HELPS STUDENTS EXPAND HORIZONS”
STUDENTS: ‘Essential’ for world
Report by Li Xing and Tan Yingzi in Washington
The China Daily HK Edition newspaper
Friday, July 22, 2011
Phelps High School added Chinese three years ago to its curriculum of academic courses and vocational training in carpentry, plumbing, electrical and civil engineering, interior and architectural design. Now three of their students are in Beijing, along with dozens of other American High School students, immersing themselves in the Chinese language.
George Mason University will take 120 students, from high school to university postgraduates, to spend two weeks under the Chinese Bridge program.
Howard University will send 23 students for a one-week stay in China, visiting several university campuses in Beijing and discussing youth leadership with their Chinese peers at Peking University.
Educators are also traveling to China too.
Similar projects at many US campuses go beyond helping fulfil US President Barack Obama’s call two years ago to send 100,000 American students to China over four years.
Called the “100,000 Strong” initiative, it “seeks to prepare the next generation of American experts on China who will be charged with managing the growing political, economic and cultural ties between the United States and China,” according to a news release by the US State Department.
Americans who study in China versus Chinese who study in the United States is about 20,000 versus 127,000.
“We want the students to have total concept and awareness of China, not just language, but culture. In this sense we see our study of Chinese language and culture as part of our patriotic responsibility to help our nation to catch up with China in foreign language studies.”
— Michael A. Johnson
Principal of Phelps High School
“I hope we (American and Chinese students) get to know each other on a more global sense because eventually we students will be leaders and change the world.”
— Dominque Perkins
Howard University Sophmore
Learning Chinese and other foreign languages “changes the way you think and how you see the world”.
— Andrea Corey, media relations officer in the State Department’s Foreign Press Center
It is very important that the students “be global learners with a global perspective that will help them to understand how those outside of the US see, interpret and respond to events. We are all interconnected with or without our permission. An environmental or economic event in one part of the world can have an immediate and dramatic effect in another part of the world far away from the original event.” That is why students need to learn “to think in the language. This knowledge of other people and their culture is not extracurricular but rather is essential to our educational objectives and also to the well-being of our nation.”
— Principal Johnson of Phelps High School