Multilingual Education and Global Citizens
Two thirds of the world’s population can speak and understand two or more languages. Multilingualism is therefore a powerful skill for a child to develop.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela
Children learn more in their first 2,000 days than in any other six-year period in their life. Studies have shown that children who are educated in a multilingual setting are more apt to learn new languages later on in life. Multilingual minds have been found to be more nimble and adaptable, they are better problem solvers and have better memories. Their ability for planning, impulse, focus and learning to discard irrelevant information is enhanced. The bilingual brain is more flexibile, it switches back and forth between two languages and allows children to think and speak in each language versus translating between languages.
Cultural diversity and cultural intelligence
Children who learn to speak multiple languages at once sound like and speak at the same speed as a native speaker. From a sociocultural perspective, multilingualism helps children to grasp the full extent of the cultural diversity that exists in this world. They can understand on an intuitive level that we are all unique individuals, with different culturally defining backgrounds and that the world can be seen and described in different ways. The ability to speak in many languages grows cultural intelligence. Cultural Intelligence is the capability to relate and work effectively across cultures and is key to any person who is maturing into a global citizen.
Demand for Bilingual Education in the UAE
Parents in today’s ultra-competitive world are seeking to identify avenues to support their children’s future prospects, both personally and professionally. In an increasingly globalised, interconnected world, multilingualism is a highly favourable and advantageous skill. Since opening for admissions in 2015, we have been delighted by the increasing number of parents in the UAE who are able to appreciate the many benefits in multilingual education. Our students in the bilingual sets study as much in English as in either French or German, with Arabic as per KHDA requirements. Our goal is to foster a flourishing community of intelligent global citizens that are inquisitive, active and compassionate life-long learners, and who contribute to a more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
On behalf of Beat Sommer, Head of School at Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai (SISD)