*** Want more information on raising multilingual children? Visit MomsRising's bilingual parenting resource site: http://action.momsrising.org/survey/bilingual_baby/?source=blog
I strongly believe in the value of dual language programs.
I took several years of French in high school but never quite picked up on it and switched to Spanish in college, so I never would have thought I would put my child in a French language preschool program. But when I found out about La Maternelle de Seattle, a French Immersion preschool close to our home and at a reasonable price, I knew we had to enroll him. As a parent and a former early learning educator, I've researched many different preschools and early learning philosophies. Based on all the research I've read about the myriad benefits of early language immersion for brain development, I didn't care what language my son was immersed in, as long as it was different than English.
Now, after only 6 months in the preschool and no previous exposure to French, I hear my 4 year old son singing and happily chatting to himself in French at home every day. He is regularly teaching our family words in French. And his pronunciation is incredible, more accurate than I ever demonstrated after years at the high school level. Not only that, we have so enjoyed the ways the school has exposed my son and our family to French culture, giving him and his classmates a firsthand look at life in another country by incorporating French holiday celebrations and traditions.
Next year my son has the option to attend a free Pre-K program through my older son's elementary school. If we chose that option, the extra monthly expense saved would be very helpful to our budget. But my husband and I see the experience of this language immersion program so valuable, we are likely going to continue to pay for him to attend the French school for one more year. I am so thankful that is a choice we can make, but I recognize not all families are in the financial position to choose a language program like ours.
I believe access to dual language programs is so beneficial to not only the development of our children, but our society. If we want to raise capable, globally-minded citizens, dual language programs for our children is an easy step in that direction.