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Multi-Lingualism: A Proven Cognitive Advantage for Your Child

Research shows that multi-lingualism is beneficial to the intellect of the child.  It fosters the imagination, helps with abstract thinking and improves and stretches cognitive capabilities. Foreign language studies also promote multi-cultural consciousness and global thinking.

Foreign Language is a key feature of both morning and afternoon circles, and teachers are encouraged to address students in a foreign language throughout the day.  We have native speakers of German, Spanish, and a variety of other languages who lead daily Circles and classes during the week.  Children begin learning German and Spanish, as well as phrases in a variety of other languages, in their toddler years at Anneliese Schools.  Exercised in the right spirit, the every day phrases taught by our Foreign Language teachers are creating valuable impressions on the students.  The new vocabulary imparts to children a sense of respect for another culture, and gives them the tools to give an authentic greeting to someone from another country.

From Kindergarten through Sixth grade, Anneliese Schools’ students receive formalized instruction in both Spanish and German.  Led by a Foreign Language specialist, these classes utilize textbooks imported from Europe, songs, art activities, games, dialogues, and writing assignments to bring students to a degree of competence for their grade level.  Travel Abroad programs, facilitated by our Foreign Language department, provide further enrichment for the whole family.

Researchers and authorities on multi-lingualism agree that foreign language studies offer many cognitive, social and cultural advantages:

Children who learn a foreign language beginning in early childhood demonstrate certain cognitive advantages over children who do not. Studies have shown repeatedly that foreign language learning increases critical thinking skills, creativity, and flexibility of mind in young children.

Students who are learning a foreign language out-score their non-foreign language learning peers in the verbal and, surprisingly to some, the math sections of standardized tests. (There is also) a relationship between foreign language study and increased mathematical skill development, particularly in the area of problem solving.

Therese Sullivan Caccavale, President
The National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL)


It is critical that foreign language instruction be available to all students throughout their PK-12 academic experience. Knowing other languages and understanding other cultures is a 21st Century skill set for American students as they prepare to live and work in a global society.

Beginning foreign language instruction early sets the stage for students to develop advanced levels of proficiencies in one or more languages. Younger learners still possess the capacity to develop near native-like pronunciation and intonation in a new language. Finally, young learners have a natural curiosity about learning which is evident when they engage in learning a new language. They also are open and accepting of people who speak other languages and come from other cultures.

Martha G. Abbott, Director of Education
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)


DUKE GIFTED LETTER: Volume 8, Issue 1, Fall 2007
The Duke University Talent Identification Program
Newsletter for Parents of Gifted Youth