12 years ago this Christmas I will celebrate touching down in Katowice airport and beginning my second life and new chapter in a foreign land. And, not without it’s difficulties I must add. It has been a liberating experience and whatever the frustrations I’ve encountered I can never complain about the lack of opportunity or the kindness and warmth that Polish kin have shown me. My one regret – my continual, absolute uselessness to hold any form of conversation in Polish without my brain melting and pulling some mad, gurning grimace in response. The despair I feel as I gradually age and my grasp of the language slowly slips from my mind whilst I watch my daughter’s bi-lingualism blossom is something truly magnificent and heartbreaking all in one.
One of the core reasons for beginning this adventure to start our own bilingual school was that since the birth of my daughter it’s relatively easy to draw comparisons between both our childhood experiences with languages. My own education of French began at 11 years old (like most Brits) and consisted of sniggering 'Merde’ or other curses whilst consistently cheating through secondary school to achieve a „B” grade and remember absolutely nothing at the end of it. The sad outcome of this is that now 20 years later schools have allowed students to opt out of languages even earlier at 14 years old, how exactly this will affect future generations of linguists we will see. To hazard a guess – a generation of culturally bereft nitwitted nincompoops. We know firsthand from experience how useful and beneficial it is to raise a child from a young age and what it takes to develop a yound child’s mind in a bi-lingual universe. It’s not rocket science – talk, talk, talk; all the time, every day – without missing a beat. The one thing my daughter will never have to worry about – losing that grasp of the language. It will always be there, implanted from the beginning, emeshed in her core synapses that will be hard to erase. Isn’t that something truly remarkable?
I agree that she could learn English later in life at a Polish school, systematically revising and filling in text books everyday so that she remembers pointless words that will eventually be lost over time. Or even still, she could attend 'Helen Doran’ and sing 'Heads, shoulders knees and toes’ every day until she’s seven, and yes, her phonetics and listening may well be attuned to English. Futhermore, she could attend a private school and have private tuition twice a week for 10 years. At what cost? Will that achieve the same result as nurturing a young child from the begininng? I doubt it very much, and how else does the child benefit from this early nurturing?
Scientific research states conclusively that a child raised in a Bi-ligual world will have detrimental benefits;