Is bilingualism necessary in early years of learning?
EYFS – Goals
To answer the question of ‘Nursery Arabic Program‘ we need to understand early years learning. Learning Support in the early years sets the foundation for your child’s development and his or her ability to gain and assimilate knowledge and learn skills.
“Children learn and develop more from birth to five years old than at any other time. If children are at risk of falling behind, the best time to help them to catch up and keep up is in the Early Years.”According to Development Matters 2021
A child’s early development is concentrated in four main areas these are:
Speech, language & communication skills
Social and emotional skills
Speech, language, and communication skills include much more than just talking. They also include understanding and communicating in a language. Expression through language represents the development of other skills, especially fine motor skills and cognitive skills. Therefore it is important to teach language skills to children from an early age. An Arabic Nursery Program combined with a British curriculum EYFS is a way to develop these skills in the early years.
The Importance of Speech, Language and Communication in Pre-Primary Education
Language empowers children to express themselves. However, the benefits of learning a language are not limited to just expression. It also helps in the healthy development of cognitive and social skills. Learning a language at an early age is helpful for children. It provides a way to communicate with others and the world and this interaction assists in social development and cultural awareness.
Speech and language development also includes listening, understanding, and communicating verbally as well as non-verbally. Acquiring language skills at an early age helps in:
- Building confidence
- Improving learning and knowledge acquisition
- Communicating effectively
- Developing social skills
- Facilitating development of interpersonal skills and forming friendships
- Enhancing understanding of the world and the environment around the child.
Research in early education indicates that developing communication and language skills at a young age has a direct impact on the performance at school through the learning years and even later on in life. Hence, we cannot separate language and communication from the overall development of a child. It is an integral and important part of the development and learning process.
EYFS and Learning a Second or Foreign Language
Young children are more adaptable and will learn to accept the environment that they are presented with more easily. They are naturally curious, mimic what they see and hear which makes it easier for them to learn another language other than their mother tongue. EYFS provides a perfect space for a child to acquire second language skills as it fulfills the goals as defined by the system. The classroom is a microcosm of the world and there may be children of other cultures, speaking different languages present in the class. This helps the child to learn about the diversity of the world and widens the child’s horizons to areas beyond the home and classroom.
Importance of Foreign Languages in Early Learning
The early years are the most conducive to learning a new language. The children are more likely to pick up new sounds and words. They learn and assimilate other languages informally and indirectly through play, interaction with children from other language speaking groups, play, and activities. Acquiring other language skills definitely has its advantages. These include:
- The children have an advantage when they start formal school and begin learning other languages.
- Helps to improve academic achievement as it improves cognitive development and wires the child’s brain to assimilate knowledge and use it properly.
- Enhances mental skills, especially memory, concentration, attentiveness and listening.
- Enhances creativity and improves problem-solving skills.
- Sensitizes them to other cultures, diversity of people and contributes to their understanding of the world and society.
- Develops empathy for others.
How to Introduce Second Language in EYFS
Now we have established that if you want your child to learn a foreign language, you should start as early as possible. The child’s natural curiosity and natural acquisition help to give them the proficiency in the language that is essential. However, teaching languages to young children is a matter of patience and repetition. So here is our secret to teaching young children another language: Make it fun. That is the best way to encourage a child to pick up new words and sounds.
Songs, Music, and Rhymes: The best way for a child to pick up new words is through songs, rhymes, and poems. It breaks the monotony and makes learning fun.
Reading: Read a story or a poem to a child in the new language. Use emotive narration to convey the sense of the story so the child follows the meaning. Introduce native language words along with foreign words in the narration to create a context for the child to understand.
Letters, Colors and Shapes: Introduce the child to letters of the target language, colors and shape names, etc. to form a base.
Cartoons, Films and Videos: Watching programs in the target language along with the visuals creates associations that the child can understand easily and helps the child to pick up new words. Speaking about what is happening on screen makes the learning more effective.
Games: Language acquisition through play is, a proven method of learning. Use interactive puzzles, word games, shape and color games to teach.
Speaking to the child in the target language: The teacher should speak to the child in the target language. It may be necessary for the teacher to speak twice, once in the target language and next in the native language to provide a context for the child to understand what is being said.
Parental Support: The parents too should be involved in the learning process and encouraged to talk to the children in the target language as much as possible.
Using these methods, a child can quickly learn the new language and over time become fluent in it. This will help them later when they need to learn the language formally.
Learning Arabic in Pre-Primary
Looking at the advantages of learning a second language as early as possible, it is natural that children of Expats living in Dubai should be encouraged to learn Arabic at the EYFS level. It will help them to adapt more easily to the local culture and environment. Learning Arabic will help them to effectively communicate with the local people and give them a decided advantage later in life when they can use these skills to improve their employability.
Green Grass Nursery has introduced Arabic into its EYFS curriculum to facilitate learning of this amazing language for children. The school uses the British EYFS framework to teach Arabic. The learning is through an introduction to Arabic greetings, songs, play activities, colors, music, letters, and stories. It is a fun way to learn the language and your child will pick it up soon.
Arabic Language and Culture in Pre-primary
Recognising the need for young children in UAE to learn about the Arabic language and culture, Green Grass Nursery now introduces a new program for immersive teaching of this amazing language and our incredible culture. We were inspired to include this in our regular teaching schedule by the increasing demand from our Arab and non-Arab expat parents. The program is intended for the child to be given a full-on exposure to Arabic language and culture from a young age instead of teaching it just as an add-on language to our regular curriculum.
Some of our non-Arab parents had not been enthusiastic about Arabic language teaching before, as they felt it was too difficult or that Arabic Language did not present any advantages to their child. Recognising their genuine concerns, GGN has taken the Arabic language instruction a step ahead by including a qualified Arabic Early Years Instructor along with a teaching assistant in our teaching staff.
We hope that this new programme will help to address the concerns of our Arabic, non-Arabic parents and will appeal to all the families living in UAE whether they are Emirati residents, non-residents or expats.
We have designed our curriculum with Arabic language at its core and not just teaching it as an extra and unrelated subject. This will ensure that our English-Arabic teaching stream lays equal emphasis on both the languages and instills a respect for the Arabic language and culture in our young minds that is at par with English.
Green Grass Nursery