Multilingualism is a cornerstone of The New Century School‘s academic approach and a key part of TNCS’s commitment to the whole child. Immersed has reported on the importance of multilingualism several times (and is even named in its honor), but ongoing research continues to reveal fresh advantages of this practice, so we’re resolving to speak up about this rich topic in the New Year!
Multilingualism at TNCS
We live in an interconnected world more so now than ever before. This interconnectedness can bring us together when we welcome and embrace diversity. Thus, being able to communicate with people of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds is vital to thriving in our global society and is among the many well-established advantages of multilingual education (listed below for your convenience).
At TNCS, students learn English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese, both inside the classroom and out. We’ll get more fully into what this means below, but first, let’s look at how it all starts. Students start at age 2 in either a Spanish or Mandarin Chinese immersion classroom. As they progress through the divisions, formal instruction in both languages is layered in as they are ready.
Although targeted instruction in the grammar and mechanics of a language is always going to be necessary, for true proficiency, the learner must be able to use the language—to speak it, to read it, even to learn in it. This is why multilingual education intersects so naturally with the Montessori approach, the next division a TNCS student will enter. Maria Montessori advocated for an educational style that fosters independent learning and absorption of language while engaged in “work.” The Spanish and Mandarin Chinese language programs at TNCS flow naturally into this scheme.
While the Montessori classrooms at TNCS are part of the preschool division, Montessori not only lays the foundation for students’ future academic career, but it also continues to inform the educational approach right up through middle school at TNCS with its emphasis on self-directed learning. In elementary and middle school, TNCS students study Spanish and Mandarin Chinese daily, in addition to having many opportunities to use their languages in authentic contexts, as you’ll see below.
Multilingualism Inside and Outside the Classroom
At TNCS, language immersion means being so proficient with language that students can study, for example, Global Studies in that language. Or read a book about China in Spanish. Let that resonate for a moment, and imagine how synergistic that kind of learning is . . . how many kinds of learning are taking place simultaneously within the child’s brain and how they each unlock further potential and space for yet more learning. It’s like a learning wormhole! A learning kaleidoscope!
Back to the inside and outside the classroom part—being an authentic multilingual global citizen (one of the pillars of a TNCS graduate) informs every aspect of learning at TNCS. Here are just some of the ways this happens:
- Learning from teachers who are native speakers of the language being taught
- Attending summer immersion camps in either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese
- Hosting exchange students, interns, and teachers
- Conversing with students in other countries via Skype
- Participating in annual celebrations of the Lunar New Year and Spanish Heritage Month
- Making art, learning songs and dances, and cooking foods that are part of the culture
- Taking field trips to restaurants and other cultural centers
Individual stories detailing these wonderful adventures are listed at the end of this post. (Hint: and they include oodles of adorable photos of TNCS students past and present!)
Proven Benefits of Multilingualism
For a refresher on the science, here are demonstrated advantages that multilingualism confers.
- Increased cognitive function:
- Increased ability to solve problems, think creatively and recognize patterns
- Improved academic performance
- Enhanced linguistic awareness and understanding of an individual’s native language
- Increased ability to apply concepts to novel situations
- Delayed development of, or increased resistance to, dementia
- Improved focus and decision-making
- Improved cultural and social skills:
- Enhanced appreciation for the differences in cultures
- Effective connection with people of different cultures and backgrounds
- Increased ability to empathize with others
- Enhanced emotional intelligence
- Economic advantages in the new global economy:
- Improved ability to conduct business in other countries
- Enhanced ability to engage suppliers or contractors from specific language backgrounds
- Increased expansion of existing business conducted in other countries
- Improved memory and recall abilities:
- Improved overall brain function and health
- Increased gray matter volume and density
- Improved executive function
- Strengthened connections between neurons
…Also visit our Top 10 Benefits of Multilingualism page for more!
So let’s speak up in 2023, TNCS Community—in all of the languages! Happy New Year! Feliz año nuevo! Xīnnián kuàilè (新年快乐)!
Here is a (far from exhaustive) list of past posts on multilingualism at TNCS. Although you most likely won’t have time to click on each and read them in their entirety—there are just too many!—their sheer number and breadth attests to TNCS’s ongoing commitment to authentic language learning in service of cultivating global citizens.
- Talking the Talk: Benefits of Multilingual Education at TNCS!
- Yujie Peng Takes Over Mandarin Chinese Instruction at TNCS!
- TNCS Middle School Capstone Trip: Return to Puerto Rico!
- March Madness at TNCS: In Like a Tiger, out in a Blaze of Glory!
- TNCS 7th- and 8th-Grade Capstone Trip: Costa Rica!
- TNCS Rings in Year of the Ox with Lunar New Year Game Night!
- Meet the Teacher: Joan Cui Takes Over TNCS’s Chinese Immersion K/1st Classroom!
- TNCS Celebrates the Lunar New Year 2020!
- TNCS Middle School Students Go to Town on Chinese Culture and Communication!
- TNCS Veteran Teacher Laura Noletto Takes Over Elementary and Middle School Spanish Instruction!
- First-Ever TNCS International Service-Learning Project!
- TNCS Head of Lower School Alicia Danyali Joins Multilanguage-Learning Professional Development Cohort!
- TNCS Hosts Second Group of Students from China in 2019!
- Happy Chinese Lunar New Year 2019, TNCS Community!
- TNCS Hosts Four Elementary Students from China!
- Chinese Immersion Camp 2019—Wǒ Kěyǐ (我可以)?
- Meet the Teacher: Pei Ge Rejoins TNCS!
- It’s Time to Catch Up with TNCS Preprimary Teacher Elizabeth Salas-Viaux!
- Spanish Immersion Camp 2018: Fun Times! Tiempos Divertidos!
- TNCS Spanish Immersion Camp 2018 Features Talented Guest Instructor from Spain!
- TNCS Preprimary Workshop, Fall 2018
- MD Secretary of State Visits TNCS!
- TNCS Hosts Chinese Teaching Interns, Summer 2018
- TNCS Welcomes Chinese Visitors for the Lunar New Year Holiday, Part 2!
- TNCS Welcomes Visitors from China for the Lunar New Year Holiday!
- Meet the Teacher: Donghui Song Brings a Nice Note to TNCS Preprimary!
- TNCS Spanish Immersion Summer Camp 2017!
- TNCS Chinese Immersion Summer Camp 2017!
- Spanish Heritage Night 2017 at TNCS!
- Meet the Teacher: Beatriz Cabrera Joins TNCS!
- TNCS Spanish Immersion Camp Gets Kids Hablar*!
- TNCS Chinese Summer Camp: Promoting Healthy Lifestyles and Happy Campers!
- Multilingual Media for Kids: Explore Beyond Dora; Bid Kai-Lan Farewell!
- “Keeping the Conversation Going”—in Multiple Languages!
- TNCS Elementary Skypes with Students from Other Countries!
- Why You (Yes, You!) Should Consider Becoming a Host Family!
- Meet the Teacher: Manuel Caceres
- TNCS Visits Schools in China!
- TNCS’s Multi-Language Program Embraces the 5 Cs
- TNCS Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month!
- Gilman School Seniors Visit TNCS for Some Spanish Fun!
- TNCS Honors Dia De Los Muertos!
- TNCS Hosts Education Conference for Teachers from China!
- Startalk Is a Huge Success at TNCS!
- Startalk Shines at TNCS!
- News for Startalk at TNCS!
- Startalk 2015 Campers Get a Taste of Taiwan!
- Meet the Teachers: Wei Li and Yangyang Li!
Also be sure to check out our refreshed Resources page with published articles and studies on the benefits of multiculturalism.)