Parents who are looking to send their children to preschool these days are generally spoilt for choice in a heavily saturated market that showcases a variety of key highlights of the specific school.
Whilst there are many factors that govern the eventual choice of a preschool, today we are going to look at one particular aspect that preschool education – that is bilingual education, and how this is relevant and important in the Singapore preschool landscape today.
In this article, we will be analyzing the level of importance of bilingual preschool education, and its impact on preschool education in Singapore to help parents make an informed decision.
Why is Bilingual Education Important?
Providing your child with a bilingual preschool creates the opportunity for parents to expose their children to other languages, especially if the 2nd language is not spoken or utilized much at home.
This will help parents tremendously in minimizing the stress levels they would experience if they are only proficient in a particular language. The 2nd language in a multi-lingual country like Singapore tends to be the Mother Tongue, but preschools are nowadays catering to a variety of languages to suit various requirements, making it easier for children to pick up 2nd languages that could be completely foreign to the parents.
The learning of a 2nd language, even at a young age such as in preschool, provides an added advantage in the form of biliteracy.
This proves to be a significant boost as an advantage to pre-schoolers in their formative years as it provides a platform for children to better communicate in both languages with peers and also the people around them alike.
However, it is through biliteracy that the true benefits are realized because being proficient in dual languages does help to build the cognitive ability of the children in both languages, and studies have shown that it helps them to be more open-minded in their thinking, on top of multitasking.
This would help children to be better positioned to handle opportunities of different natures as they come along.
This could include those on a social front with other children, but also for their future, by providing a stable stepping stone for them to cope with an increasingly faster-paced education landscape in Singapore. With so many benefits to learning a 2nd language, what could deter parents from taking this approach during their children’s pre-schooling years?
Whilst finding a bilingual preschool in Singapore is not difficult and is generally offered in most preschools given the emphasis Singapore places on it as a multi-lingual society, parents need to do adequate research on the preschools to ensure that the style of preschool education offered suits the needs of the children.
This does not only just refer to whether your children enjoy the lessons, or love the curriculum, but also to be mindful of how schools are able to: a. Ensure consistency in the utilization of both languages in the day-to-day lessons, to ensure that the children do get maximum exposure to both languages so that neither language falls behind b. Ensure balance in the amount of time devoted to learning. It happens generally in day-to-day life, based on the language spoken at home, children will tend to rely on one language over another.
Hence the preschool could go a long way to ease the burden on parents who are not as proficient in the 2nd language in the form of teaching.
Likewise, it may also be a potential consideration to see if preschools have separate teachers to teach each language. Similar to how children have a tendency to switch to a language that they are more comfortable with, there is this tendency as well during the teaching process if the same teacher teaches both languages.
It may be good for parents to request to listen in to a session of a 2nd language class at prospective preschools they are looking at. Without a doubt, the cost of sending a child to a bilingual preschool would be higher than that of schools that only offer a monolingual curriculum.
However, as preschools in Singapore go, most of them will offer bilingual curriculums. Hence parents will have to spend the time to assess which one fit most of the criteria they may have.
So what now?
At the end of the day, what matters is the position of the parents in determining the basis of choosing a bilingual preschool for their children.
In the Singaporean context, the benefits of having a bilingual preschool education as a basis for your child to grow in a multi-lingual society of Singapore outweigh a mono-lingual preschool education, but with a highly saturated field and increasing cost of such pre-school education in Singapore, it is key for parents to stringently filter and actively be involved in the selection process of the best pre-school for their children to give them the best possible headstart for their future.