Foreign Language Immersion

While working across the nation, we frequently discuss avenues for competitive advantage in programming especially those that provide strategies for marketing to the current parent base as well as the community- at- large.  Supplemental programming and services, such as computer education, web-based camera systems, foreign language instruction, and wellness- centered activities have historically provided a means for providers to differentiate themselves from their competitors. New on the horizon, and in our opinion are one of the most exciting new services being offered is foreign language immersion. Although foreign language instruction has been a typical component in most educational programs for the last decade, foreign language immersion is a newer concept that is gaining in popularity with parents who seeking more progressive options, and who recognizes the value of cultural education for their children. Immersion programs differentiate themselves by providing a forum in which no English is spoken, creative, fun activities and discussions are used for the students to gain an understanding of the language in a practical way. Music, movement, books, and puppets are typical devices that create an energetic forum that allows the student to connect the language with the concept, rather than with the English word sharing its meaning. In addition to the obvious advantages of understanding cultures and languages outside of the United States, educators are increasingly aware of the enormous benefits that being bilingual has on the brain and the pocket book.

 Best Time to Learn a Language

Recent studies suggest that children have a deeper ability to acquire and develop language skills than adults. There is a critical period in human development when children are able to pick up new words and sounds in an almost effortless manner, irrespective of their primary language. Researchers Scientists believe that before the age of 10 is the best time to start learning a language, and that as people progress to adulthood it becomes increasingly difficult to absorb words in this manner.

Academic Advantages

Researchers also believe that learning a language enhances children's cognitive development. This means that children who learn a second, or third language, are likely to develop better critical thinking skills, as well as have more flexible and creative minds. Learning a foreign language improves a child's general problem solving skills, leading to a better understanding of math and a generally higher level of academic achievement compared to those who do not study a language. This could therefore have a positive impact on performance in all subjects at school.

Economic Advantages

It is widely held that those who start learning other languages in childhood will have significant economic advantages later in life if they continue to develop their language skills. With the globalization of businesses and populations growing increasingly cosmopolitan, the need for transactional knowledge of languages has become very important in both private and government sectors. In addition, the ability to speak a second language makes a student more marketable to prospective employers because it shows that they have the motivation and intelligence to learn something new. Demand for dual language speakers is growing in the United States and some employers are willing to pay more for bilingual staff. Learning to speak multiple languages at a young age could therefore, give students an advantage in the job market in later life.

In Celebration, Florida, Rebecca and Bruce Griffey began The Foreign Language Immersion Early Childhood Center to provide a unique learning experience in which children are immersed in Spanish, Mandarin, and French, beginning in the infant room. Big Blue Marble is a new company dedicated to foreign language immersion programs located in the southeast. It serves preschool organizations, public and private schools, and holds community-based classes in an outsourcing format that most educational providers seek. This company is led by Nan Rikard, of Columbia, South Carolina, who formed Big Blue Marble in 2010 to provide immersion programs in Spanish, Mandarin, and French for students ages 18 months to 18 years. Rikard, an educator with 20 years experience in many different educational settings, formed the company after recognizing the lack of language and cultural education in her own three children, and has grown to provide currently 80 classes. According to Rikard, “European, Asian and South American families are exposing their children to other languages at an early age and it is not unusual for European students to graduate with multilingual capabilities. With technology moving us into a global economy, I want my children to grow up as global citizens and that is my passion for the children of our US communities”.

In addition to increasing the level of programming in your school, language immersion will create an excellent marketing tool. Promoting community-based classes that are held in your facility is an excellent way to gain new traffic into your school so that potential students gain information on additional enrollment options. By outsourcing the program to another organization, business owners can easily integrate the process into their existing curriculum. In addition to the marketing benefits, educators and parents are increasingly recognizing that this cutting edge curriculum supplement is filling the gap for many children so that our future global leaders have the same advantage as other children throughout the world. For more information about these programs contact us at


ArticlesJaclyn Lintern