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Why a bi-lingual school?

Today it is natural that in the state school curriculum we can more often find the specialization for languages. The attempt in teaching a compulsory minimum of one language, possibly two, has the problem of implementation, mostly in connection with the quality of teachers, and adequate finances. Innovative ideas of education are becoming well grounded, broadening in popularity with more political support and are subject to current trends. Attempts to teach language is always moving to lower age categories. The number of pre-schools which teach language is growing. They prove that small children can, by play and without the feeling they are learning something, have a quality base of language learning skills in a very small space of time.

Elementary schools which proceed these pre-schools, belong to the world wide networks of schools, with payments in US dollars at astronomical amounts.

It is generally known that the ability to learn new foreign languages declines with age. According to scientific studies, the ages between two and thirteen are considered optimal for language learning. Scientists in the field of Psycho-linguistics, for example S.D. Krashan, puts the ideal limit to pre-school age, ie: five to six years old. This easier learning at a young age is connected with :

  • plasticity and flexibility, higher nerve activity at a young age, which is lost as we become adults.
  • Biological pre-disposition (so called “imprinting”). According to Nobel prize winner, K. Lorenz, if this period is not used for learning a second language, we loose the chance to learn a language easily and effectively without effort.
  • Physiological processes of lateralization. The gradual building of language centers in the left hemisphere of the brain (1st graders). This process ends in puberty coupled with the ability to learn foreign languages.
  • The so called “non-specific method” which means the way of learning a foreign language in play situations.
  • The time factor. Learning at a desk where the pupil is in contact with the language in the lesson. During non-specific learning, the number of lessons set for this language stimulation is significantly higher.
  • Natural pronunciation in the foreign language which can be achieved generally only in childhood (confirmed by research of J. Asher and R. Garcia).

The private primary school Galileo considers it’s own students may need preparation for the bi-lingual way of teaching. Because of this a preparation class will be established for five to six year old children. A combination of English and Slovak is not going to be limiting for the choice of schools in higher grades. That is why we have decided to teach compulsory subjects such as Slovak language and Math in Slovak language with respect to content and ability standards for elementary schools, as set out by the Ministry of Education of Slovakia.

Socrates and Leonardo DaVinci, EU programs promote the idea that in central Europe everybody should know three languages at least passively. This is possible if we start the study of foreign languages at pre-school age.

We thank PhDr. Oµga Árochová Csc. for the material she provided us with, which are use using as our base in this section.