Benefits of Raising Bilingual Children in Tennessee

learning english in knoxville

Tennessee children deserve the bilingual advantage

At Confidence Learning Services, we always talk about the advantages for children of being bilingual, but it seems that many Tennessee parents are more concerned about dance lessons, soccer practice, scouts, or any number of other activities. And why shouldn’t they be? All of those activities have great advantages as well, so what are the specific advantages to childhood bilingualism?

Children Spanish classes

Not only is being bilingual more likely to be useful in your child’s future career than being able to pirouette or knowing off sides rules, it gives them plenty of other advantages as well. Here are just a few:

 1.     Bilingual Children in Tennessee can focus better.

Bilingual children have better focus and disregard distractions in the environment. The part of the brain called the executive function, used for planning, judgment, working memory, problem solving and staying focused on what’s relevant is stronger in bilinguals. Every time you speak, both languages are actually active, and the brain has to work to suppress one language while the other is being used. That mechanism employs the executive function of the brain more regularly in bilinguals and therefore it becomes more efficient. This ability starts very young in bilingual babies.

 

2.     Multitasking is better if you’re bilingual.

Turns out, bilingual kids can switch from one activity to another faster and are better at multitasking than monolinguals. Again, that’s related to the executive function of the brain, which gives bilinguals better cognitive control over information that allows them to switch tasks.

 

3.    Bilingual children in Tennessee are more flexible and creative.

Studies show that bilinguals have increased mental flexibility and creativity. When you learn there is more than one word for an object, it stretches the mind in new ways and gives children greater mental flexibility and creativity as they have two windows through which they view the world. Russian psychologist Vygotsky stated that “bilingualism frees the mind from the prison of concrete language and phenomena” (Hakuta, 1985).

 

4.     What about tests in English? Bilingual children score better.

bilingual children

Bilingual children in dual-immersion schools have been shown in one study to score higher on both verbal and math standardized tests conducted in English.

One study in Florida on students from 16 elementary schools showed that bilingual students scored significantly higher in both the math and verbal sections of the Florida standardized test than monolinguals, an average of 23-34 points higher than their monolingual classmates.

 

5.    Tennessee parents, ever wish your kids were more logical?

Bilingual children display stronger logic skills and are better equipped than monolinguals at solving certain mental puzzles.

In a 2004 study , bilingual and monolingual preschoolers were asked to sort blue circles and red squares into two bins on their computer, one with a blue square and the other marked with a red circle. Children were first asked to sort by color, placing blue circles in the bin for blue squares and red squares in the bin for red circles. Both groups performed this task equally well. But when the children were asked to sort by shape, not color, the bilinguals performed the task with greater ease than monolinguals. It’s executive function once again – bilingual children can more easily suppress learning an old rule in favor of a new one.

bilingual kid

When they’re not studying loopholes in your rules, that is.

6.  Just bilingual? Not for long.

Scientific research, demonstrates that after conquering two languages, adding a third, fourth, and fifth language aren’t nearly as difficult. Just ask any language teacher who has taught Tennessee students who are already bilingual a third language, vs. their monolingual peers.

 

7.  Catch you later, Alzheimer’s.

The advantages of being bilingual carry over throughout your life, whether you stay in Tennessee or move to another state or country. That’s because bilingualism alters your brain chemistry, which has been linked to staving off the onset of alzheimer’s.

 

Of course, these benefits only come with true bilingualism. Exposing your child to a second language by watching TV shows and movies in another language or going to class for 30 minutes a week won’t result in your child being bilingual without lots of support on your part. But it can be done! I’ll discuss raising bilingual children – including a guide for monolingual parents – in my next blog.

Are you ready to give your children the bilingual advantage? We have years of experience working with children of all ages and backgrounds, and we can’t wait to help your child learn too. Contact Confidence Learning Services today for a free consultation. 1-865-226-9477

Festivals in Knoxville

Knoxville Asian Fest

Today I want to let you know about three special upcoming festivals in Knoxville.

First Annual Knox Asian Festival

Knoxville Asian Fest

http://knoxasianfestival.com/

Where: Krutch Park, Downtown Knoxville TN

When: Saturday, September 20, 10 a.m – 6 p.m.

Knoxville’s very first Asian festival will feature various performers, including music, Lion Dancing, and Martial Arts. There will be activities including Samurai practice and origami folding. Several vendors will be there, including some great Knoxville Asian food vendors – we’re looking forward to egg rolls! And there will be Door Prizes, with chances to win a $50 gift card, Free Sushi Making class, and more.

Confidence Learning Services will have a language booth at the Knox Asian Festival. We’ll be playing “Guess the Language”, with chances to win prizes for identifying different Asian languages, as well as playing an English language vocabulary game and giving away door prizes. Plus you can sign up in person for our English Pronunciation and Accent Reduction lessons. Stop by and say hi to us!

 

Knoxville Greek Fest

Knoxville Greek Fest

http://greekfesttn.wordpress.com/

Where: Saint George Greek Orthodox Church on Kingston Pike in Bearden

When: September 26th and 27th – 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and September 28th 12:00-6:00.

The 35th annual Greek Festival will feature authentic Greek food (Baklava?Dolmeh? Yes please!), as well as cooking demonstrations. There will be authentic Greek wares such as clothing, ceramics, jewelry, books and icons for sale. Face painting and games will be available for the kids, and there will also be church tours available and dancing.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the Greek Orthodox religion, Greek Culture, and Greek food, and participate in an iconic Knoxville event that has been taking place for decades.

 

HoLa Festival (Hora Latina)

)Knoxville HoLa Festival

http://holafestival.org/events/

Where:  Market Square in Downtown Knoxville

When: Saturday, September 27th – 7p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, September 28th – 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The HoLa festival always takes place during Hispanic Heritage Month, usually near the 15th and 16th of September which are the Independence days for Mexico as well as many Central and South American countries. Musical performances by the Asheville Tango Orchestra, Reverbnation, and Orquesta de Jaime Bonilla, among others, will be featured.

There will be special dance and drama performances, as well as craft activities for the kids and special family activities.

The food at the HoLa festival in Knoxville is so much more than tacos! Cuban Sandwiches and plantains, alteñas, empanadas, cuñape, tres leches, gorditas, and more will be available. Brush up on your Spanish and come hungry!

 

These festivals remind us that the city of Knoxville is so much more than Bluegrass music and the Great Smoky Mountains. We have diverse populations that make various cultural contributions to our city, and remind us of how global East Tennessee is becoming. There are more than 17,000 Spanish Speakers in Knoxville, many of whom are represented at the HoLa festival, and many non-native English speakers represented at all three festivals. Take the time to get out and get to know your community a little more, and we hope you stop by and say hello to Confidence Learning Services at the Knox Asian Festival.

Tennessee: Here’s 6 Things you didn’t know about Accent Reduction Classes

accent reduction in knoxville

I get a lot of questions about the most interesting and least understood service that I provide with Confidence Learning Services, “Accent Reduction.” Here are some basic facts that will hopefully help you to understand this service just a bit better.

 

1. Accent Reduction is not really reducing your accent, but simply learning a new accent.


A lot of people considering Accent Reduction Courses are scared or intimidated by the possibility of “losing” a part of themselves, or they wonder what it would be like to speak “without” an accent. But the truth is, we all speak with an accent. An Accent Reduction Class just teaches you how to speak with a standard American accent, instead of the regional or foreign accent that has been causing you difficulty.

 

2. Accent Reduction Software is limited.


Anytime you purchase something that is pre-packaged, like Accent Reduction Software or DVDs, you are giving up personalized attention for a generic product. Your accent is as unique as you are, and each person has different accent issues in English that need to be addressed, including your native language, your hometown or country, age, gender, level of education, career specialty, level of exposure to English, etc. When you purchase an “Accent Reduction Software”, it may be helpful, but the same content will be available whether you are a Native Chinese speaking Engineer, or a Native Finnish speaking financial executive. Choosing a class or trainer with one-on-one learning opportunities increases the effectiveness of any program.

 

3. Accent Reduction does work.

“But my uncle has lived in the U.S. for 20 years and he still speaks with an accent!”

Accent Reduction is possible, but only if you are willing to invest the time and energy required. Students who enroll in a 12-week Accent Reduction Course, and practice for one hour each day during the length of that course, demonstrate an average of 50-80% improvement on an objective evaluation. However, if you don’t enroll in an accent reduction or pronunciation training class, or put some sort of effort into improving your pronunciation, chances are, you won’t see much improvement. It’s a lot like having a membership with a gym – you may have had a membership for the past 5 years, but if you haven’t put the time and effort in each day to work out, you will still be out of shape.

 

4. Accent Reduction is easier for some people than others.


Life isn’t fair, and this is one of those areas that just seems unjust. Learning correct English pronunciation is much easier for people who come from similar language backgrounds – especially other Germanic languages like German or Dutch. It is hardest for people who come from languages with very different sets of sounds, like Mandarin or Cantonese. However, students who find accent reduction the hardest are precisely the people who can benefit most from an individualized Accent Reduction course. Students who come from language backgrounds that are very different from English tend to struggle the most with day to day activities – communicating at work, ordering food, talking with service personnel on the phone – because of their accent. These are the students who will see the biggest difference in their quality of life after taking an accent reduction course.

 

5. Accent Reduction isn’t just for non-native English speakers.


Regional accent reduction can also benefit your career. If you are traveling throughout the U.S. for business and find people consistently asking you where you are from, that may be a sign that your accent is affecting the impression you give to others. It’s no problem to say “y’all” instead of you, or “far” instead of “fire” if you are living in Tennessee, and saying “Hoe-ah-ya?” instead of “How are you?” in New York probably won’t garner any negative attention. However, when you leave your local region and try to conduct business in other areas of the country, these pronunciation habits will likely place the spotlight on your accent, instead of what you are trying to say.

 

6. An accent is just a habit


Just like brushing your teeth, getting dressed, or looking both ways at a stop sign, an accent is a habit, a way of speaking that your brain has been programmed to do since about age 4. Because an accent is a habit, it can be changed with practice. However, it is very different from learning new information, which simply requires memorization. An accent requires regular practice to master the new skill you are trying to implement, and it changes gradually, just like any habit you are setting out to change.

Want to learn more about accent reduction? Give us a call and we’ll set you up with a free evaluation to identify the specific areas of English pronunciation you need to improve most.