The immersion approach first gained traction in North America because educators believed in its potential to move students further towards bilingualism and bi-literacy.
This approach to second-language and literacy development proved itself to be the most successful school-based language program model available.
It is the basis for our approach at LANGUAGE TODAY.
BENEFITS IN A NUTSHELL
Since the 1960s, several studies have shown that bilingualism leads to many advantages, beyond the obvious social benefits of being able to speak to more people. It also improves executive function, a term for advanced mental abilities that allow us to control our thoughts and behavior, such as focusing on a goal, ignoring distractions, switching attention, and planning for the future.
Scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.
Research indicates that in full immersion programs, children develop initial literacy in the immersion language, and then develop a complete understanding of the foreign language.
However, the benefits do not stop there. In fact, the many cognitive processes that underlie the ability to read a foreign language, such as understanding the relationship between the spoken language and the written word, transfer from one language to another.
In essence, research shows that a full immersion program not only teaches students a foreign language, it strengthens their understanding of their native language as well.
There is no evidence to suggest that it isn't any harder for a child to acquire two languages than it is for the child to acquire one language. As long as people are regularly speaking with and exposing the child in both languages, the child will acquire them both easily.
A full immersion school exposes children to cultures they may not regularly encounter on a day-to-day basis, and it develops in them an ability to make friends and connections with a variety of classmates.
Have you ever heard the bilingual quote; “To have another language is to possess a second soul” by Charlemagne? One of the benefits of being bilingual can mean that you see the world in different ways. An added amazing benefit of being bilingual is that you can learn additional languages more easily. This is because language skills reinforce each other.