Thursday, February 28, 2013

A third language???!!

I recently saw this in facebook, and I loved it. 
Something I just recently experienced is connected to this part on the poster "Bilinguals find it easier to learn a third language than monolinguals do to learn a second."  As you know I work with kids. Let me rephrase that: I play, sing and dance with kids in Spanish. I do this once a week at a pre-school near downtown. When I first got the job the director told me that there were a lot of children in that school that were bilingual, and that Spanish was going to be their third language. I wondered how that would turn out. When I was in college I tutored a high-school freshman in Spanish. He hated Spanish. He was already bilingual, he spoke English and Greek. He was also really good at Spanish but didn't want to do the work. He was a little bit lazy. His excuse was "I am already bilingual, I don't need Spanish." Yet, he was so good at it. I did what I could. Now, working with 2-5 year olds the story is very different. In the second class I taught on Monday morning there was a little boy who speaks Italian at home. He was so eager to learn Spanish, and he was no afraid to pronounce words incorrectly. Yes he would sometimes add a little Italian spice to the Spanish words. His accent was great, and he wanted to participate and help others. In the next class I met his younger brother. I found that this little boy was also not afraid to try new words and participate. The little one was only 2 years-old. Many 2 year-olds remain quiet the entire class, and only participate when I ask them to dance or move their hands. Then in my last class another boy who spoke Hindi at home, was also very eager to learn Spanish. He was the first one with his hand up, and would say the new learned words over and over quietly to himself before saying them aloud. 
Of course, many of the other kids who were not bilingual were very eager to participate and try on the new words. It just struck me as interesting that the ones that were the most eager, loudest and excited were the ones who already spoke and heard two languages at home. Not only is it easier for them to learn a third language, but it also helps their confidence and self-esteem. I see 2 year olds three times a week, and for the most part they are quiet and careful. If their parents or caregivers are with them then they open up some. However, if they are in class with a bunch of kids their age they tend to be more careful. It's funny, because my 2 year-old class is my best class. They are the best listeners I could ever ask for. As for my 4 year-olds... well let's just say I'm going out and buying lots and lots of stickers.

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