The Benefits of a Bilingual Education

bilingual education

Contributor: Rachael Sanderson Benz

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The Benefits of a Bilingual Education

Progressive parents who wish to give their children a global education are bucking the conventional public school route and enrolling their kids in schools that offer a bilingual education. “Parents who want their children to be diverse and independent thinkers, who are open to the world, choose bilingual education for their children,” says Simone Bruemmer, Ph.D., Head of Lower School at the German International School New York in White Plains. “Cultivating global citizens is part of this type of education. The ability to navigate multiple cultures and languages is an advantage for later in life,” she says.

What is Bilingual Education?

“Students who receive a bilingual education are taught subject matters in two languages,” says Marine Heraud, Director of Admissions at the French-American School of New York (FASNY) in Mamaroneck. Topics such as reading, writing, math, science, literature, and social studies are taught to students in English and French by native speakers of each language at the school. “A true bilingual teaching model goes beyond the mastery of two languages,” says Heraud. “It is based on the acquisition of two cultures, of two thought systems, and of two ways to express one’s ideas,” she says.

“Starting in pre-K, our students ‘live’ both the German and English language through coursework, projects, exchange programs, and their friendships,” agrees Bruemmer. “They move seamlessly between both languages with great ease,” she says.

Who Attends?

According to Thomas Mitchell of Lyceum Kennedy French American School, approximately 85 percent of the school’s students come from homes that speak dual languages. “It is always easier if the child is already in a bilingual environment at home, but it is not a requirement. We have some parents who have chosen a bilingual education for their children simply because they like the French language and culture and want their children to learn two languages,” says Mitchell. As with FASNY, students who attend Lyceum Kennedy are taught curriculum in both English and French beginning from preschool up to high school.

Start Young

There is a resounding agreement by educators that it is best to introduce a child to a dual language program during the preschool years. “Virtually all science on the matter points to the fact that ‘the younger, the better’ is truly the best practice in language acquisition for children,” says Sage. “Children starting at the preschool level have a significant advantage over children starting later than this,” she says.


While there are many advantages to enrolling your child in a bilingual program, there are a few drawbacks. Parents expressed that potential students and their families should be aware of the increased homework load due to the dual curriculum and the possibility of having to say goodbye to friends who relocate to another country. By and large, they agreed that these issues seemed small in contrast to the benefits.

Graduates of bilingual programs have the advantage of earning an international degree, which opens the doors for students who may wish to pursue college abroad. Students earn a high school degree from New York as well as a diploma from the country of the second language curriculum they are studying. For example, graduates of the German International School New York earn a New York State High School Diploma and the German International Abitur, which is a high school degree from Germany that facilitates access to universities worldwide.

Educators of dual language programs tout that bilingual students have increased memory — are better thinkers, problem-solvers, have greater focus, score higher on tests, and have more empathy toward others. “Bilingual children excel academically and can more easily navigate multiple cultures,” says Bruemmer.

Academics aside, our experts agree, a bilingual education opens doors both professionally and socially.

Bilingual Resources

Battery Park Montessori
21 South End Ave.
New York, NY 10280
[email protected]

Battery Park Montessori is New York’s only trilingual Montessori school, offering their 2-6 year old students exposure to both Spanish and Mandarin languages in their beautiful ground-level riverside location with a secure outdoor playground along a tree-lined promenade. Their children thrive in pristine prepared environments guided by trained and qualified teachers that ensure the social, emotional, cognitive, academic, and physical development of each child. Battery Park Montessori is located at 21 South End Avenue in Battery Park City. They offer rolling admissions, and there are limited spots available for the 2020-2021 school year. Contact [email protected] (212-235-2304) for more information.

Collina Italiana
1556 Third Ave., suite 602-603, New York, NY
[email protected]

Collina Italiana’s language programs have enabled children to learn la bella lingua of Italy in an interactive, fun and nurturing environment for over fifteen years. They offer year-round comprehensive language learning and hands-on instruction in the arts in classes that are divided into age groups. Now they are offering students the opportunity to learn about Italian language and culture online, through fun lessons, games and activities. Designed by their dedicated and experienced native Italian educators, their online classes can be enjoyed by children ages 4-9+. In addition, they are also offering private classes for children and adults as well as their Leggiamo! Children’s book club on Sundays for ages 4-10, free of charge.

French-American School of New York
Manor Campus (Nursery-Grade 3)
111 Larchmont Ave., Larchmont, 914-250-0469

Village Campus (Grades 4-8)
145 New St., Mamaroneck, 914-250-0451

Harbor Campus (Grades 9-12)
320 East Boston Post Road, Mamaroneck, 914-250-0477

FASNY develops globally literate, multicultural lifelong learners through a unique program that integrates American, French, and international curricula. They educate students to understand, contribute to, and thrive in an interdependent world. FASNY holds its students to the highest standards of academic excellence, supports them in their personal development, and fosters a spirit of inquiry, service, and social responsibility to the environment and the global community. FASNY is accredited by New York State Association of Independent Schools, the International Baccalaureate Organization and the French Ministry of Education.

German International School New York
50 Partridge Road, White Plains
914 948 6513

Established in 1980, German International School New York (GISNY), an independent Pre-K through Grade 12 college preparatory program, will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2020. Their bilingual education in English and German with an emphasis on science and math opens a world of opportunities for your child. At GISNY graduates earn the NYS High School Diploma and the German International Abitur, a globally recognized diploma, which gives access to universities worldwide. Children entering our Pre-K or Kindergarten programs are not required to speak or understand German and will build the foundation of being bilingual by first grade.

Green Meadow Waldorf School
307 Hungry Hollow Rd
Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977

A Green Meadow education is a global education. Students take Spanish in grades 1-12 and German in grades 1-5 through their World Languages program, and they offer Japanese in grades 9-12. They host a diverse international population in their High School, where about 70 percent of their students go on international exchange for 3-5 months to become fluent in their target language. Their Admissions Office is working remotely and happy to assist you with planning for your children’s education in September 2020. Please email Admissions Director Melissa McDonagh at [email protected] to sign up for an Online Information Session and learn more about Green Meadow and Waldorf Education.

HudsonWay Immersion School
525 West 52nd St.
New York, NY

HudsonWay Immersion School is the first independent immersion school in the Tri-State area. They serve students from preschool to Grade 8, where students learn all subjects in two languages – Mandarin/English or Spanish/English – giving them the cognitive abilities, character and global skills to succeed in a fast-changing and interconnected world. They are now introducing a new middle school track for incoming 6th graders without prior Mandarin language experience. Scholarships and financial aid are available.

International Academy of New York
4 East 90th St.
New York, NY

The International Academy is a bilingual, diverse and multicultural school for Pre-Nursery (2’s) through 8th Grade. The school has the advantage of small class sizes, allowing for individual attention and deep academic study. Students receive daily instruction in the arts, a focus on literacy and math skills, and immersive classes in Spanish or Chinese. They also have a unique, creative coding program geared toward AI for social good. Placement and financial aid is still available for the fall.

Lyceum Kennedy French American School
225 E. 43rd St., New York, N.Y.

Lyceum Kennedy’s mission is to provide its students with a unique bilingual education based on the principles of self-expression and differentiated pedagogy (Nursery through 12th Grades). The school’s solid foundation allows students to grow into full participants in the world around them and keep a passion for knowledge throughout their lives. Lyceum Kennedy’s teacher/student ratio allows the school to understand and work with each student as an individual in order to ensure academic success and instill a love of learning. Students have the option to follow the French, New York State Board of Regents and/or the International Baccalaureate DP program. Register for an Open House event or a private tour.

Pine Street School
25 Pine St.
New York, NY 10005

Pine Street School is NYC’s only fully-accredited International Baccalaureate World School with a full immersion Spanish and Mandarin program from Nursery (2s) through 8th Grade. Using highly-respected international curriculums and the latest educational research, they prepare capable, confident, and responsible 21st-century world citizens and changemakers to best deliver an intellectually rigorous, inquiry-based approach that prioritizes student agency, technological fluency, and developing a global perspective. Conveniently near public transportation in the Financial District, regular age-appropriate field trips keep the learning meaningful and relevant. Contact [email protected] (212-235-2304) for information about available spots for 2020-21, and inquire about Financial Aid starting in Kindergarten and Merit Scholarships for Middle School.

Smith Street Maternelle
388 Carroll St., Brooklyn (Opening September 2020)
607 Henry St., Brooklyn

Smith Street Workshop is expanding its French Immersion preschoolwith a brand new location opening for the 2020-21 school year! The Maternelle provides an exceptional preschool experience grounded in the fundamentals of progressive education, child development, and language learning. Early Childhood theorists have documented the benefits of learning through play for well over a century. Rudolf Steiner, Reggio Emilia, and Maria Montessori have all established well-known and prominent schools of thought, which each highlight the importance of learning through play.  The Maternelle features a French Immersion curriculum that blends the best elements of these prominent education philosophies. The school is committed to providing a warm, nurturing and secure environment for children to explore and learn, make social connections, and develop their expressive and receptive language skills. Applications are open now for both locations. Visit the website to learn more and apply.

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Harlem Hebrew Language Academy Charter School

<p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; color: #000000;" data-sheets-value="{" data-sheets-userformat="{">An academically rigorous K–5 curriculum including intensive instruction in the Hebrew language. A diverse student body develops a strong sense of social and civic responsibility across the curriculum.</span></p>

Rivendell School

<p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal;" data-sheets-value="{" data-sheets-userformat="{">A Montessori pre-primary inclusion school providing toddler, half day and extended day programs. Beautiful Montessori classrooms, an excellent student/teacher ratio, and a warm, cooperative atmosphere where children learn to work and play.</span></p>

The Windsor School

<p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; color: #000000;" data-sheets-value="{" data-sheets-userformat="{">An independent, coeducational, middle and high school, for students in Grades 7 – 12. The mission of our school is to develop well-rounded and thoughtful students prepared to cope with a changing post-modern and globalized world. We nurture individual talents and interests to the fullest extent within our comprehensive and carefully planned curriculum. We strive to provide our graduates with an academic foundation that will enable them to gain admission to the colleges or universities of their choice as well as to succeed in those institutions.</span></p>