Dear Canberra, Thank you doesn’t seem like enough, but that’s where I’ll start. Thank you….
How many languages can you speak? If your answer is, ‘Just the one’, we can probably guess that at some point you’ve either dabbled in learning another language, or at least wished you could.
And it’s no wonder. Knowing multiple languages has a whole host of benefits beyond just making life easier when you visit foreign countries.
Research shows that people who are bilingual have increased empathy, better emotional intelligence, and display higher levels of critical thinking. It can help your mental health, from improving self-esteem and self-identity through to potentially delaying dementia and Alzheimers, and make you feel a greater sense of belonging.
The same benefits apply for kids learning multiple languages, which is why bilingual preschools can be a popular option for both bilingual and monolingual parents. And from next year there’s a new opportunity for young kids in Canberra to learn both English and Spanish.
The Spanish Australian Preschool is a brand new bilingual preschool launching in January 2022.
“The Spanish Australia Preschool will immerse children—both native speakers and non-native speakers—in a safe environment where they feel comfortable using Spanish and English,” says Spanish Australian Preschool director Cristina Wright.
“As passionate educators, we know how important it is for children to grow up understanding and knowing not only their own language and heritage, but also the world around them.”
Located in a recently refurbished and purpose-designed preschool in Red Hill, Spanish Australia Preschool will tentatively offer up to 30 places across four days, for children aged three and above.
The preschool is an initiative of Bilingual Schools Australia, and the experienced educators will deliver the Early Years Learning Framework in a bilingual Spanish/English environment.
Cristina who speaks four languages fluently, “and could possibly get by in about six,” believes that bilingualism provides incredible benefits to children’s development and equips them with the skills to succeed in a world where globalisation is the norm.
“Bilingualism has many proven benefits, including an increase in emotional intelligence, communications, sensory perception, decision-making, self-control, executive function, and increased empathy,” she says.
The preschool program is based on an approach that fosters creativity, imagination, skills, and knowledge to develop naturally, while the bilingual education program gives children opportunities for planned and unplanned play that will facilitate their growth and development of skills for life, including bilingualism, biliteracy and biculturalism.
And as a parent, you don’t even have to speak Spanish yourself to send your child there.
“We are offering places to monolingual families as well because of the benefits. We think that this is a gift to future generations, and we don’t just want to offer it to the people from our heritage, because anybody should be able to access this enriched experience,” says Cristina.
Cris says they will tailor the needs of different families depending on their language abilities, and will do introductory language sessions to help bring families up to speed, whether that’s with English or Spanish.
Enrolments are now open for January 2022 and beyond.