Language education that starts early and involves children in daily communication and content learning provides children the opportunity to develop a second language as naturally as they learned their first language. Learning a second language prepares students to communicate with more people and to compete in a global economy, where proficiency in more than one language represents a significant advantage. Research shows that when compared to their monolingual peers, children who learn a second language often:
• Demonstrate an improved overall school performance;
• Demonstrate greater cognitive development in such areas as problem-solving skills, mental flexibility, creativity, divergent thinking, and higher order thinking skills;
• Demonstrate improved memory and listening skills;
• Demonstrate a greater understanding of their native language;
• Achieve statistically higher scores on standardized reading, language arts, and mathematics tests administered in English.
Language proficiency outcomes are directly proportional to the amount of time spent by students in meaningful communication in the target language. The more time students spend working communicatively with the target language, under the guidance of a skilled and fluent teacher, the greater the level of language proficiency that they acquire.
Students in programs that devote more time to instruction in the target language and that use the target language for content-area instruction achieve higher levels of proficiency than students in other world language programs.