BILINGUALISM AT LIA
H O W I S L I A B I L I N G U A L ?
To begin, we must make it clear that a child's "mother tongue" is the foundation upon which all other languages will be built.
Even if a child’s mother tongue is neither French nor English, he must have a strong command of this language and be able to both read and write it. If this should be the case for your child, we strongly encourage you to do what it takes to ensure he obtains a strong command of his mother tongue.
We are convinced that language and culture are very closely linked. By learning a new language from someone, the child discovers
the specificities of that person’s culture, including humour,
worldview, and other cultural attributes.
A bilingual school may choose to operate according to different models of timetable organisation and pedagogical oversight.
At LIA, we practice bilingualism daily. Each day the children are taught alternately in the two languages, often in blocks of several successive periods in the same language.
At LIA, all children are taught half the weekly time in French and the other half in English.
At LIA, the teacher’s primary language determines which language is used in the classroom. Except in very exceptional cases, the teacher does not translate. This is what is meant by “learning by immersion.” To help communicate their teaching points and facilitate understanding for some children, our teachers may use pictures or dramatic expression, for example.
At LIA, the concept of dominant language and partner language makes it possible to adapt the instruction provided to a given child's linguistic profile.
Each student’s level of proficiency in his/her dominant language must be at least equivalent to that required in a monolingual course at the same age. As soon as possible, the child will also be taught, in his partner language, at the level of his age group.
At LIA, certain subjects are sometimes taught in French and sometimes in English:
- this is the case for mathematics
- this is the case for science, in periods of 5 weeks.
Other subjects will be taught one year in French and the following year in English.
At LIA, moving beyond bilingualism, multilingualism is encouraged. We take every opportunity to make the most of our students' skills in other languages, placing a high value on them and making connections between them and the languages studied.
What are the advantages of being bilingual/multilingual?
Tamera Peters is not only the Director of School Initiatives for the TeachBeyond organisation, she is also the Chair of LIA's Board of Directors. Her research and vision helped define the framework for the development of the bilingual program at Léman International Academy. She is also involved in several educational projects in places such as the Congo, Germany, Switzerland, and France.
Most people in the world speak more than one language.
This is independent of a person's socio-economic level and intelligence level.
The fear that second language acquisition is too challenging for the average child is totally unfounded (Montanari, 2003). Parents who think they can offer their children a bilingual education recognise the many advantages of learning several languages from an early age. Many do not realise that children who have been taught in bilingual programs exceed the linguistic, cognitive and social performance of their monolingual peers. (Bremer, 2007; Baker, 2000; Dalgalian, 2000).
The acquisition of a language by young children stimulates the neurons in the brain which, if they are not stimulated, will begin to decline from the age of seven. If this part of the brain is used, neurons create connections that will facilitate language learning throughout life (Dalgalian, 2007).
Another benefit for children who acquire a second language will be their ability to apply what they have learned linguistically and socially in other areas of their lives. For example, when a child learns a new concept, he or she holds several transfer points as starting points, allowing him or her to understand a new concept more precisely (Bremer, 2007; Baker, 2000; Dalgalian, 2000). This "portability" helps the child to remain more flexible and adaptable in a new cultural context or intercultural situation.
Baker (2000: 12) used six “C” words to express the advantages of being bilingual.
The 6 « C » advantages
1. Communication Benefits: Literacy in two languages (Baker, 2007; Cummins, 2000); broader communication capacity (international community) (Byram, 2007)
2. Cultural Benefits: Greater ability to assimilate a new culture, deeper multiculturalism (Kim, 2005; Brown, 1980; Berry, 2008); greater tolerance and less racism (Lustig, 2005)
3. Cognitive Advantages: Intellectual benefits (creativity, better sensitivity in communication) (Cummins, 2000; Dalgalian, 2000; Yoshida, 2008)
4. Advantages in Character Development: Better self-esteem (Baker, 2000; Baker, 2007); greater security in identity
5. Curriculum benefits: Better outcomes (Byram, 2008); facilities for learning a third language (Dalgalian, 2000)
6. Career Benefits: Economic Benefits and Employment Ease (Seeba, 1996; Uber Grosse, 2004)
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Berry, J. W. (2008). Globalization and acculturation. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 32(4), 328-336..
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Byram, Michael. (2008). From foreign language education to education for intercultural citizenship. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters LTD.
Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Dalgalian, Gilbert. (2000). Enfance plurilingue. Paris: L’Harmattan.
Dalgalian, G. Bénéfices et conditions d’une éducation bilingue [Benefits and conditions of a bilingual education]. Retrieved Mai 22, 2009 from, http://div-yezh.org/spip.php?article599
Kim, Young Yun. (2005). Adapting to a new culture. In W. Gudykunst (Ed.), Theorizing about intercultural communication (375-400). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Lustig, Myron. (2005). WSCA presidential address: Towards a well-functioning intercultural nation. Western Journal of Communication, 69(4), 377-379. Retrieved March 5, 2009, from Pro Quest.
Montanari, E. (2003). Mit Zwei Sprachen Gross Werden [Growing Up With Two Languages]. Muenchen, Germany: Koesel-Verlag.
Seeba, Hinrich, C. (1996). Cultural versus linguistic competence? Bilingualism, language in exile, and the future of German studies. The German Quarterly, 69(4), 401-413. Retrieved March 7, 2009, from JSTOR.
Uber Grosse, Christine. (2004). The competitive advantage of foreign language and cultural knowledge. The Modern Language Journal, 88(3), 351-373. Retrieved March 4, 2008, from JSTOR.