I’ve previously posted about the benefits of learning another language (see The Best Resources For Learning The Advantages To Being Bilingual).
A related article on a new study was just published headlined Bilinguals See the World in a Different Way, Study Suggests. I was struck by some parts of the article and study, though not by necessarily connecting it to our English Language Learners.
In our mainstream ninth-grade English classes, some of the units we teach including having students review “glossaries” of the slang or language that people speak in the areas we’re studying — New Orleans and Jamaica. We have them do a variety of activities with it, including identifying words they like, writing postcards using the language and developing a dialogue (all this is part of our curriculum from Kelly Young and Pebble Creek Labs). In fact, tomorrow, we’ll be having our students record their short conversations using Fotobabble and post them on our class blog.
Students always love these lessons, and I think parts of this study gives me more insights into their academic value. The study talks about intentionally learning a language, but I would think even a short exposure to one, like we do in our classes, might have some comparable, though limited, benefit. Here are some related excerpts from the article:
As well as learning vocabulary and grammar you’re also unconsciously learning a whole new way of seeing the world,” said Dr Athanasopoulos. “There’s an inextricable link between language, culture and cognition.
“The benefits you gain are not just being able to converse in their language — it also gives you a valuable insight into their culture and how they think…It can also enable you to understand your own language better “