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Enrolling your children in an English-speaking international school can present an array of opportunities in language learning, social development and college options.

With the excitement of these new opportunities also come questions - will my child fit in? Can my child maintain their native language, if this is not English? Can my child transfer into another school system later? 

Click here to find out how International School Bangkok (ISB) helps maintain the native language. 

In a school where English is the language of instruction, it is important to encourage your children to maintain their native language. We know, at ISB, that there are many benefits to this.

 

Benefits of Maintaining the Native Language 

 

1. Greater Academic Progress 

Students who maintain their native language while also working on their second language are shown to progress at a higher level in all their studies.

A study conducted by Fred Genesee and Kathryn Lindholm-Leary titled, “The education of English language learners”, found that when home language and school language are used collaboratively in the classroom, students have greater academic achievement in literacy and other subjects.

Proficiency in both a students’ native language and their second language also results in higher achievement in math and English-language reading. 

 

2. Greater Cognitive Advantages

In addition to reading, writing and math skills, maintaining the native language while also working on your second, can tremendously benefit your cognitive functions. 

There is an increasing amount of evidence from researchers worldwide that bilingual children exhibit significant cognitive advantages.

Individuals who are bilingual have a better memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, strong multitasking skills and powerful listening skills according to Lead with Languages

 

3. Better Job Prospects 

According to a report by New American Economy titled “Not Lost in Translation”, employers are increasingly more interested in bilingual candidates. 

“Over the past five years, demand for bilingual workers in the United States more than doubled.”

 

4. Better Chance of Getting into Post-Secondary 

According to Maria Franquiz, a bilingual education expert and the new Dean of the College of Education at the University of Utah, not only are students who speak more than one language fluently more likely to get into school, but they are also more likely to stay enrolled. 

 

How to Help Your Children Maintain their Native language 

Attending an international school, participating in extra-curricular activities in English and generally speaking English around campus, means that it’s important to take the extra step to guarantee your children use their native language frequently enough to stay fluent. This is fundamental to ensure that the language can be supported outside of the classroom. 

Learn more about how ISB helps Japanese families maintain their native tongue when transferring to an international school, here.

We believe that native language learning happens best when students experience a strong home-school partnership and to help ensure this, we’ve explored ways you can reinforce learning at home. 

 

1. Speak Your Native Language at Home

This is one of the easiest - and most useful - ways to help your children maintain their native language.

From the moment they walk in the door from school until they leave the next day, try to ensure they hear their native language whether it’s on TV, over dinner conversation or even when using a recipe to make some food. 

According to Olga Steklova, a retired EAL teacher at ISB, she also encourages parents to utilize extended family. 

“Relatives and important others who are dedicated to educating children and happy to watch them grow,” writes Steklova in her column Ask Olga! 

 

2. Encourage Your Children to do Activities in their Native Language

Whether it’s sports, drama, robotics, study groups or just planning a playdate for your children with some friends, activities are an exceptional - and fun - way to help them maintain their native language. 

According to ISB alumnus, Hyuga Tsukamoto, he found it helpful to spend time with students around campus who spoke the same native language.

“I tended to go towards Japanese students because I felt more comfortable using my first language.”

At ISB, we understand the multitude of benefits your child can experience when they  maintain their native language. Click here for more information about why maintaining native language is a crucial attribute in todays world. 

 

3. Traveling to Your Home Country

Not only will travel to your home country completely immerse your children in their native language, it will also help them learn about their culture and heritage. 

 

4. Enrolling Your Children in an International School 

Enrolling your children in an international school with a strong native language program will help them maintain their first language, while also honing strong English-language skills. This will help ensure that when they graduate they can have a choice in whether they want to attend post-secondary in their native language or English. 

An international school will also teach your children the connection between their language, culture and country. 

At ISB, it's easy for your child to maintain their native language while also studying in English, and we welcome our students to incorporate their mother tongue in the classroom. Learn more about how this philosophy is implemented in the classroom here

 

How an International School Helps Maintain the Native language

 

1. Language Program 

At ISB, we believe that language is at the heart of human communication, thinking and feeling. It is a part of identity and culture, which is why we believe that it is best for students to maintain their native languages and acquire additional languages whenever possible.

We support language development by offering a strong language program during the school day in Middle School, High School and Elementary School. 

Japanese classes, for example, are taught four days per week. 

“I feel the language program was a great way to learn more about my Japanese language and literature, and there was content about its history which was super interesting as well. I felt like I was not losing my own language at ISB,” says Tsukamoto. 

 

2. Native Language Academy

To help your children maintain their native language, they will need more than just the school day. 

At ISB, in addition to our language program during the day, we also offer Native Language classes after school. Lasting an hour to 80 minutes once or twice a week, these classes help children feel more culturally and linguistically at home. 

Currently, we offer:

  • Dutch
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Spanish
  • Thai (Pre-K)

Discover the success stories of students at ISB and how they were able to maintain their native language while studying in English.

3. Bilingual IB Diploma

At ISB, we offer our students the chance to get a Bilingual IB Diploma, one such example being in the Japanese language. 

We invite you to learn more about how ISB helps your children maintain their native language by clicking here.

 

Japanese Native Language Program

Academics Native Language