After reading the first and second chapters, in How Linguistics are Learned, I am interested by what Lightbown and Spada (2006) argued. The authors claimed that “The development of bilingual or second language learning is of enormous importance” (p. 25). They argued also that acquisition of more than one language in our new global world is rewarding for bilingual individuals socially and economically. The authors stated that most children nowadays are exposed to more than one language during their early childhood and schooling time.
Some may learn two languages at the same time ‘simultaneous bilinguals’ while others may learn the other language later ‘sequential bilinguals’. There are situations where children are cut off their family language while they are very young. They may stop speaking their family language. This might represent a reason for concern. Researchers have recently devoted a considerable amount of their time and energy to investigate children’s abilities to learn more than one language at early age. The goal is to help students to learn a second language at early age and facilitate that for teachers and educators.
This subject matter is interesting and challenging to me personally because it is connected to my experiences as a teacher and principal of multicultural schools environment with language learning /acquisition and education. My first language is Arabic; English is my second language. I started learning English while I was at Middle school; I was 12 years old. I have been all my life in education. I worked a teacher and principal. I worked in Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Canada and the US. I have worked with students from different countries speaking different languages in multicultural schools environment.
My current school is Annoor Islamic School (AIS) in Wichita, KS. It is a private school, Pre-K through 8th grade. Students enrolled are 157 from 20 countries and 90 % of them are bilingual or trilingual. Students speak more than five different languages at their homes in addition to English. Due to the fact that our school is an Islamic school all our students are Muslims. AIS provides higher quality of education for students. They learn, in addition to public schools’ curriculum: Al-Quran al-Kareem, Islamic Studies and Arabic Language.
Teaching Arabic for the non-native Arabic speaking makes them trilingual. It may look difficult for students, but in reality they want to be able to read Al-Quran. Al-Ksareem. They are highly motivated to learn more about their religion and read Al-Quran Al-Kareem in the Arabic Language. Based on my experience and observations all these years as a teacher and principal, I found that my bilingual students have higher academic results compared to their non-bilingual counterparts. The same conclusion was confirmed by developmental psychologists’ research as Lightbown and Spada (2006) stated.
I also found that bilingual students’ skills are transferrable. The skills and knowledge that bilingual students know through their first language are transferrable. They can present these skills knowledge in their new second language easily. At my current school AIS, students startlearning anther language at age 3-4 years old. I found it is important to start young students learning a language other than their own from at an early age. That’s when they pick up a language the fastest. It is important because we need to know more about other nations’ cultures and history to improve world relations.