Senior School News

Learning a Second Language

This week we turn our focus to the benefits of learning a second language and the benefits of becoming a bilingual learner. For most of our students at BSM, English is their first language, with Spanish, French or Mandarin a second language. However, for some within our community English is an additional language and some students speak more than two languages, including those not offered in the formal curriculum at BSM. In the last week, I have spoken to students who speak Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and Portuguese, and I am sure that is just a snapshot of the range of languages spoken across the BSM community.

The benefits of bilingual learning are well documented and include:

  • Cognitive benefits – where learners develop cognitive flexibility, aiding learning and progress later in life.
  • Academic benefits – on average bilingual learners are higher academic achievers than their peers.
  • Cultural benefits – moving between languages and cultures helps students develop a unique identity and affinity with two different cultures. These students are often more empathetic to different perspectives and viewpoints and more socially adept.
  • Financial Benefits – Students who are able to operate across languages and cultures are able to function in a range of international contexts, an extremely marketable skill in a competitive global environment.
  • Health benefits – a growing body of evidence indicates that bilingualism can delay the onset of neurological diseases including Dementia and Parkinson’s.

Whilst many of our students at BSM may not be bilingual, there are strong reasons for them developing an additional language, maintaining this language learning and use beyond their time at BSM.

To further support students with their language learning we now have native speaker Language Support Assistants in French, Spanish and Mandarin. We also have two members of the Learning Support team working alongside our English department. These members of staff work with both small groups and individuals to help develop their confidence and fluency with their language learning. In addition, your child’s language teacher provides a range of resources that students can access beyond the school day to help them develop their vocabulary, grammar and language fluency. We are also offering language trips to France, Spain and China this academic year, where students have the chance to practice and develop their language skills in an authentic context. As a British School, we also provide plenty of opportunities for students to develop their English language skills.

We ask you to both encourage and support your child’s language learning journey. It might not always be easy for them, but perseverance and determination will help them to improve. Should your child require further support then please do contact their MFL language teacher or English teacher. Alternatively you can contact our Curriculum Leader for Modern Foreign Languages, Paula Kennedy-Wingate: or our Curriculum Leader for English, Brian Taylor:

If your child speaks a language that we don’t offer at BSM and would like to complete an IGCSE examination or other formal qualification in that area, we would be happy to discuss this with you and where possible facilitate this.

I wish you all a happy multilingual Half-Term Break. We look forward to seeing you all back at school on Monday 15 October.

The week after half term break is Week A.

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