Children who learn more than one language have some real advantages. Look at this joint position paper. (Se puede traducir esta página: Ver abajo.)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
POLICY STATEMENT ON SUPPORTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN WHO ARE
DUAL LANGUAGE LEARNERS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS (Pages 1&2)
The purpose of this policy statement is to support early childhood programs and States by providing recommendations that promote the development and learning of young children, birth to age five, who are dual language learners (DLLs). The statement also provides support to tribal communities in their language revitalization efforts within tribal early childhood programs.
National estimates indicate that there is a large and growing population of DLLs. Early childhood programs should be prepared to optimize the early experiences of these young children by holding high expectations, capitalizing on their strengths - including cultural and linguistic strengths - and providing them with the individualized developmental and learning supports necessary to succeed in school.
It is the vision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Head Start) and the U.S. Department of Education (Public Schools) that all early childhood programs adequately and appropriately serve the diverse children and families that make up this country. This joint policy statement advances that vision by:
• Setting an expectation for high-quality and appropriate supports and services designed for DLLs;
• Increasing awareness about the benefits of bilingualism and the important role of home language development;
• Reviewing the research on the unique strengths of and challenges faced by this population, and strategies that are effective in promoting their learning and development;
• Providing recommendations to early childhood programs, tribes, and States on establishing policies and implementing practices that support the learning and development of DLLs;
• Providing considerations for tribal communities engaged in Native language revitalization , maintenance, restoration, or preservation efforts within their early childhood programs; and
• Identifying free resources to support States, tribal communities, programs, teachers, providers and families in supporting the development and learning of DLLs.
The DLL Population
• 22% of children ages 5 to 17 in the U.S. speak a language other than English (LOTE) at home, a figure that has more than doubled in the past three decades.
• 27% of children under age 6 live in homes where at least one parent speaks a LOTE.
• In Head Start, 29% of children live in homes where a LOTE is spoken.
• The majority of children who are DLLs come from homes where Spanish is spoken.
The Legal Foundation
Several Federal laws apply to serving young children who are DLLs and their families. The following laws may be applicable to early childhood programs serving young DLLs, including:
• The Head Start Act
• The Child Care and Development Block Grant
• The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
• Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its Implementing Regulations (Title VI)
• The Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA)
• Title III, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)
• The Native American Languages Act
• The Native American Programs Act of 1974
The Research Foundation
•Advances in neuroscience demonstrate that the average human brain is equally equipped to learn multiple languages, and that it is possible to learn multiple languages at the same time, or to learn a new language while continuing to develop the first language. Children are not confused by learning more than one language at a time.
•Bilingual children who have continuous, high-quality exposure to more than one language from a young age demonstrate more advanced executive functions than their monolingual peers, including more effective cognitive control, greater abilities to control and shift attention, enhanced problem solving abilities, greater working memory, and increased ability to focus on pertinent information, ignore distracting information, and apply known concepts to new situations.
•A growing body of research also indicates that DLLs may have advantages in social emotional development, including better self-regulation and fewer behavior problems, compared to their monolingual English speaking peers.
•Despite these potential advantages, research indicates that in the U.S., there is still a gap between some DLLs and their peers in school readiness and achievement.
•High-quality, intentional, and consistent exposure to the home language and to English can set children on a positive trajectory toward school success and bilingualism.
•Studies have found that high-quality preschool and elementary school dual immersion models can produce favorable cognitive, achievement, and social outcomes for DLLs and their monolingual English-speaking peers.
•Research on language use in early childhood programs, and on the benefits of supporting home language development, including fostering bilingualism, maintaining cultural connections and communication with family members, and the transferability of home language skills to English language acquisition, suggests that systematic and deliberate exposure to English, paired with supporting home language development within high quality early childhood settings, can result in strong, positive outcomes for DLLs, as well as positive outcomes for native English speakers.