“The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” Steve Jobs
In his article, “Want to Change How Kids See the World? Teach Them A Second Language” author Rafi Schwartz writes about how students who have acquired or learned more than one language have a unique perspective on character traits. In essence, they are more open to peoples’ differences as compared to monolingual students or adults. Referenced in Schwartz’s article, researcher and psychologist Krista Byers-Heinlein of Concordia University in Canada states, “Certain bilingual kids are more likely to understand that it’s what one learns, rather than what one is born with, that makes up a person’s psychological attributes”. This supports children’s openness to variations of people and their experiences, as compared with adults’ tendency to stereotype or prejudge. Children who learn a second or third language have a valuable perspective on how language learning affects perspective and knowledge.
A common idiom about education is that it broadens students’ horizons. I am very fortunate that the elementary school in which I teach is going to become what our district calls a “FLES” school beginning this September. FLES stands for Foreign Language in Elementary Schools, and Arlington County, Virginia describes the Spanish language program in full detail in the linked webpage. As an ESOL teacher, I am very excited for the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers, as well as to practice my own Spanish. I anticipate that my students’ participation in our FLES program will offer them experiences that will support their self-confidence, practical language skills, and academic language applicable to all content areas. I believe that the FLES program will broaden all students’ perspectives in the obvious ways, as well as what researcher Byers-Heinlein has revealed. These are life-long skills and benefits – how fantastic!