The Value of a Tri-Lingual Education

As the owner of a children's store called Little Green Beans, people always ask me about my kids. Where are they when I am working? My children attend preschool while my husband and I work full time. 

Around age 2, I started to consider how to bring more structure to my son's day. He loved (and still loves) to play. He's bright and creative. He was just ready for more school and learning than day care.

My husband and I thought a lot about the school choices, and there are many! We live in Greater Austin. We kept coming back to international schools with strong language immersion programs.

  • Having learned Spanish starting at age 12 and Japanese at age 19, I found it a bit of a challenge to speak new languages. My husband too had learned Spanish in high school, only to forget most of it, when we need it most, in the workplace.
  • We are very fluent in English (only) and both love to read and write. Learning a second (or third) language in junior high school or college is a lot harder we found and we never gained fluency.

I discovered that Austin, like many other cities had a number of language immersion programs and courses. Some started at age 3, others were in far away (e.g., in South Austin (and fairly inconvenient for daily trips).) I knew that beginning a second language at age 2 going on 3 was desirable for overall development of my child's mind.

Then I read about The Austin International School (AIS), the tri-lingual program that is accredited by The French Ministry of Education and NAEYC, the accrediting body for preschools in the U.S. We had to check it out and were glad we did!

  • Not only does it provide the structure we were seeking but literally our son is immersed in three languages and multiple cultures daily. 
  • At age 4, he is taught 60% in French, 20% in Spanish and 20% in English by native speakers. During free time such as lunch and after-school he speaks primarily English.

AIS has an international focus. Last week, the 4-year-olds were learning about French Guyana and insects in all 3 languages. The typical school day runs from 8:40-3:00PM for preschoolers. Occasional field trips are much anticipated.

Families from AIS hail not only from France and other French-speaking countries but also from Spain. Many families are multi-cultural and love the fact that AIS is a "melting pot" and welcoming of all cultures.

AIS currently goes through the 5th grade and a middle school is being planned. The School now has room for expansion with a beautiful new campus in North Austin that is opening next month. 

If giving your child the opportunity to learn multiple languages and cultures at an early age is a fit for them and your family, I highly recommend checking out an international school.

I'd enjoy hearing from other moms who've done the same and what their experiences have been.

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