The encounter with other languages should not only serve to extend the individual’s horizon in a formal manner. It should also enrich and diversify his inner life, nurturing his very soul. It was vital, so Steiner maintained, to introduce languages other than one’s own as a means of counteracting whatever one-sided influences any particular language exerted on the developing child. By getting to name and recognize the objects in the world around him in a new way through the medium of a foreign language, every child would be given the opportunity to break free from the confines of his mother tongue. Education of this kind would prevent children from growing up into narrow-minded, nationalistically prejudiced adults. Instead of encouraging attitudes that ultimately separate people and nations from one another, tolerance and mutual understanding between nations should be consciously cultivated.” According to Rudolf Steiner, fonder of the first Waldorf Scholl in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919. All the students from class 1 and up were taught two foreign languages.

There's a well-established positive relationship between basic thinking skills and being a fully proficient bilingual who maintains regular use of both languages. Fully proficient bilinguals outperform monolinguals in the areas of divergent thinking, pattern recognition, and problem solving. Bilingual children develop the ability to solve problems that contain conflicting or misleading cues at an earlier age, and they can decipher them more quickly than monolinguals. When so doing, they demonstrate an advantage with selective attention and greater executive or inhibitory control. Fully proficient bilingual children have also been found to exhibit enhanced sensitivity to verbal and non-verbal cues and to show greater attention to their listeners' needs relative to monolingual children. Further, bilingual students display greater facility in learning additional languages when compared with monolinguals. While much evidence supports the benefits associated with full and active bilingualism, the relationship between language immersion education and long-term cognitive benefits is as yet less well-understood. Some research does indicate greater cognitive flexibility and better nonverbal problem-solving abilities among English-proficient language immersion students. Decades ago, Dr. Jim Cummins cautioned about the need for a certain threshold level of second language proficiency before cognitive skills might be positively impacted. While some studies report positive cognitive effects for partial or emerging bilinguals, Dr. Ellen Bialystok concurs that it is bilingual children with a more balanced and competent mastery of both languages who will predictably exhibit the positive cognitive consequences of bilingualism.


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