Jim Cummins, University of Toronto, 2001
Bilingualism has positive effects on children’s linguistic and educational
When children continue to develop their abilities in two or more languages throughout their primary school years, they gain a deeper understanding of language and how to use it effectively. They have more practice in processing language, especially when they develop literacy in both, and they are able to compare and contrast the ways in which their two languages organize reality.
More than 150 research studies conducted during the past 35 years strongly support what Goethe, the German philosopher, once said: The person who knows only one language does not truly know that language. The research suggests that bilingual children may also develop more flexibility in their thinking as a result of processing information through two different languages.
Spending instructional time through a minority language in the school does not hurt children’s academic development in the majority school language:
Some educators and parents are suspicious of bilingual education or mother tongue teaching programs because they worry that these programs take time away from the majority school language.
One of the most strongly established findings of educational research, conducted in many countries around the world, is that well-implemented bilingual programs can promote literacy and subject matter knowledge in a minority language without any negative effects on children’s development in the majority language.