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Multilingualism in the Classroom

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Published:
Jun 10, 2021

The world is getting much more multilingual each year. Nowadays people know many more languages and much more fluently than in the past. It is not a rare occurrence to have kids who speak a different mother tongue in your classroom. As such, we should take some time to check out what effects multilingualism has on the field of education.

Now, we know that plenty of resources about the impact of multilingualism can be found on the Internet. Some of them include academic reviews, such as myadmissionsessay review and reviews of various topics related to education in every aspect, but let's go through an overview here. 

First we will start with the…

General Benefits of Multilingualism

Multilingualism sharpens the mind. According to various studies, people who speak more languages can better detect things and identify any misleading information. A study also has shown that learning a new language makes the brain bigger. The same study found out that the greater the age at which the next language is acquired, the greater is the effect of the growth of the brain structure. According to research, multilingual people who frequently use several of the language show more activity in the regions associated with attention, short-term memory, and inhibition.

It also enhances the process of decision-making. According to a study from the University of Chicago multilingual people have an easier time making decisions. This is somewhat related to the fact that when a person learns another language, they need to judge for hidden meanings and appropriateness of what they are going to say. With practice this process of decision-making benefits not only the language speaking itself but all decision processes.

Multilingualism also enhances one’s ability to multitask. This process requires the person to disengage from one activity and transit to a new mindset, fully immersing in a, sometimes totally, different activity. Multilingual people who frequently use their languages and have experience in switching between them, have shown that they are better in multitasking. People who have the ability to think in another language have a better capability to multitask than monolingual people.

It leads to a better memory, too. The more one uses their brain, the better will it perform. And multilingualism requires a great deal of brain activity. One needs to accustom themselves to a new set of vocabulary and gain the ability to recall the information they’ve learned. Once a person learns a new language, they will be faster in acquiring another one. A Luxembourg study showed that people who speak more than one language could probably have a lower risk of developing brain problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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Consequences of Multilingualism

Multilingualism has plenty of consequences, some of them linguistic, others – socio-political. Some of them are the development of better cross group communication. Multilingualism requires the development of some mixed language for it grows in an intense language contact. Thus, when the learner communicates verbally, they will need to include a mixture of languages.

Multilingualism will develop cross linguistic communication strategies. Some of them include code mixing and code switching. Code switching is when people use one language and home and then switch to another outside of home.

Multilingualism develops cross-cultural communication skills. They will make the person more competent in the communicative abilities.

Multilingualism in the Classroom

If the teacher supports multilingualism in the practice, this will lead to positive effects on the academic performance of their students. It will also lead to a better social and emotional well-being. This can be done passively (when one allows students to use their native tongue) or actively by implementing multilingual practices in the process of teaching.

Also, we know that when kids understand what they hear and read, then they will be actually able to learn. Without that understanding, they will have a harder time assimilating the material. So, when you have a multilingual classroom, you would do good if you are able to implement multilingualism in practice for that will allow students to understand what they are reading and hearing. This will then lead to a better understanding and a higher-quality learning process.

Another thing we need to point out is that learning is most effective if one builds on what they already know. And since kids already know their native language, they will achieve the best results with the implementation of multilingualism in classroom. Also, their native tongue will help them cope better with the learning of a second, third, etc. language.

Language, as we know, is a large part of thinking. If we don’t allow kids to use their mother tongue, we may actually be silencing their inner voice. This will then lead to the silencing of what is a crucial tool in the learning process.

When you use language-supportive teaching methods and include the languages of kids in the educational resources and practices, you are allowing for an easier break-down of the language barrier that is stopping plenty of kids reach success in education.

Conclusion

So, we saw that multilingualism has plenty of benefits. Sure, we weren’t able to discuss all of them for that would take a great deal of time and space. But we pointed out the most important benefits that directly translate to the learning process. Also, we tried to show you what impact multilingualism has on the education process. We need to be aware of the impact of multilingualism and make a note of the fact that kids will benefit of using their native tongue in the learning process. So, we should try to encourage the multilingualism in classroom and in education in general.

Laura Fields follows the goal of educating both students and teachers alike. She thinks it is important to empower them with more information so that they can better understand, teach, and achieve greater results both in school and in life.

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