Current Affairs
What are the advantages for children who are bilingual?

Linguistic experts are recommending that parents should assist their children to learn how to speak, write and read well in Maltese and English, and possibly other languages by involving themselves in dialogues with them from early childhood.

Dr Lara Anna Vella from the National Literacy Agency said that children learn a language if they feel it is needed, that is both at school and even in the family there should be an environment where children are aware of the need to learn Maltese and English in a balanced way.

Researchers have established that multi-lingualism, that is a person has knowledge of more than one language, offers many social and psychological advantages, and in life generally.

It is estimated that a language is lost every two weeks world-wide and by the end of the century, half of the languages may disappear.

National Literary Agency chairperson, Prof. Charles Mifsud, says that Malta is lucky to have two languages – Maltese and English – however it is needed that this advantage continues to be sustained through parents who assist their children, since early age, to practically use the two languages.

“Encourage them to express themselves and talk to them with a meaningful dialogue by listening and to express themselves on the day’s events at school, when they return home for example…ask them on what they see during an outing.”

Dr Lara Ann Vella, who was involved in drafting the bilingual policy at primary years and which is currently in a public consultation, said that educators and parents have an important role to create a positive attitude towards languages because what happens at home, affects behavior in school and vice-versa.

“Research shows that when children have a negative attitude towards a language, they find it difficult to learn at school…that is we encourage parents to positively speak about all languages. There are also recommendations on educators to create positive attitudes towards languages, not only Maltese and English, because they are important in classes”.

 

Meanwhile, primary and recently appointed teachers will shortly be given a bilingual glossary of matemathics terms. During a meeting with a group of experts who are making a comprehensive collection of mathematics terms in Maltese and English, Education Minister Justyne Caruana said that with the glossary, the Maltese language is being given more importance by including itin subjects which are normally used only in the English language.