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GW to Study Impact of Foreign Language and Culture on Children
May 07, 2012
The research, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, will focus on children of military families.
The George Washington University is working with the U.S. Department of Defense to enhance the language and cultural capabilities of children from military families in the Second Language and Culture Exposure for Children and Youth Project.
GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development will collaborate with the Department of Defense Office of Military Community and Family Policy and military service branches. GSEHD faculty will assess current military and civilian programs for effectiveness in enhancing language and cultural capabilities and to determine which can be expanded.
GSEHD Dean Michael Feuer said the school is “proud and honored” to support military families and their children’s education.
“It will be especially exciting to bridge our research with practice in the creation of innovative educational programming for military children,” he said.
Researchers will work in three phases during an 18-month period. In the first phase, they will review existing programs that support exposure to a second language or culture, and create a practitioner-friendly guide for expanding or creating language or culture programs for children. The second phase will be dedicated to developing training and technical assistance to support the project’s development, implementation and evaluation of children in DOD facility- and home-based child care. In the final phase, researchers will implement pilot programs and evaluate the effectiveness of the training and technical assistance components of each of those programs.
The implications for the research are wide-reaching. Studies already show that children who are exposed to a second language or culture up to age 5 are more developmentally well-rounded than those who aren’t exposed; by providing children with skills to more easily learn languages, they will be able to perform in a global environment.
The GSEHD faculty participating in the project include Joel Gomez, associate professor of education leadership and lead researcher of the project; Jaewha Choi, assistant professor of educational research methods; and Richard Lanthier, associate professor of human development.
The project, said Dr. Gomez, “is an element in strengthening early childhood education programs for this population, and our research will help determine best practices for exposing young children to language and culture.”
The project is supported by an award administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture as part of the Extension-Military Partnership. That partnership was established between USDA and DOD in 2010 to support military service members and their families.