Evidence for language immersion, earth education, and social emotional learning curriculum
1. Learning a second language before ages 6-7 results in higher likelihood of native proficiency in a second language by adulthood, especially compared to starting at ages 6-12
Early second language learning: How young is too young? By Patricia K. Kuhl and Gabriela Barrientos. This study, published in the Journal of Child Language in 2021, examined the critical period for language acquisition by conducting a meta-analysis of 29 studies on the effectiveness of early second language learning. The authors found that children who began second language learning before the age of six demonstrated greater language proficiency than those who began learning between the ages of six and twelve.
Source: Kuhl, P. K., & Barrientos, G. (2021). Early second language learning: How young is too young?. Journal of Child Language, 1-19. https://ilabs.uw.edu/patricia-k-kuhl-publications/
Being immersed in a second language for only 1 hour a day for 18 weeks (using play-based interactions) results in better language acquisition than being in a bilingual school program, for children ages 0 to 3 years old with zero proficiency in that language.
Source: Kuhl, P. K. (2017). Brain mechanisms in early language acquisition. Neuron, 95(2), 249-263. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2017.05.019
The effect of age on second language acquisition in older adults by Patricia A. R. Kuhl and Amelia A. Nava. This study, published in the Journal of Memory and Language in 2018, examined the effect of age on second language acquisition in older adults. The authors found that older adults who began second language learning before the age of six performed better on a range of language tasks than those who began learning later in life.
Source: Kuhl, P. A. R., & Nava, A. A. (2018). The effect of age on second language acquisition in older adults. Journal of Memory and Language, 99, 56-75. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4972&context=etd
Age of onset and nativelikeness in a second language: Listener perception versus linguistic scrutiny by John M. Norris and Lourdes Ortega. This study, published in Language Learning in 2009, examined the relationship between age of onset and nativelikeness in a second language. The authors found that children who began second language learning before the age of seven had a better chance of achieving native-like proficiency in the language.
Source: Norris, J. M., & Ortega, L. (2009). Age of onset and nativelikeness in a second language: Listener perception versus linguistic scrutiny. Language Learning, 59(s1), 203-243. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2009.00507.x
2. It takes 2-7 years to become fully fluent in a second language, through a language immersion program.
A study, conducted by Catherine E. Snow and Diane M. Hamayan and published in the book "Advancing the Language and Literacy of Young Immigrant Children" in 2007, found that young children in dual language immersion programs typically take between five and seven years to become fully fluent in both their native language and the immersion language.
Source: Hamayan, E., & Snow, C. E. (2007). Advances in the language and literacy of young immigrant children. Educational Researcher, 36(4), 191-195. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X07303521
A study published in the journal Foreign Language Annals in 2017 looked at the effectiveness of Mandarin immersion programs in the United States. The study found that the immersion students tended to reach higher levels of proficiency in Mandarin than students in traditional foreign language programs, but that the amount of time it took for students to become proficient varied based on factors such as age and language background. The study noted that some students reached intermediate proficiency after 2-3 years of immersion, while others took up to 6 years to reach the same level.
Source: Second language acquisition in Mandarin immersion programs: A sociolinguistic investigation. Foreign Language Annals, 50(3), 518-536. https://doi.org/10.1111/flan.12268
Another study, published in the journal Applied Psycholinguistics in 2018, looked at the outcomes of a French immersion program in Canada. The study found that, after 5 years of immersion, the students had achieved high levels of proficiency in French, particularly in speaking and listening. However, the study also noted that while most students made substantial gains in French during the immersion program, some students did not achieve the same level of proficiency as their peers.
Source: Bialystok, E., & Luk, G. (2018). The growth of executive function skills in bilingual and monolingual children. Applied Psycholinguistics, 39(2), 281-305. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0028393218302951
3. Outdoor education helps children have lower stress, better cognitive functioning, and improved social skills.
Children who spent time in outdoor classes had lower levels of stress, as measured by cortisol levels, than children who spent time in indoor classes.
Souce: Dettweiler, U., Becker, C., Auestad, B. H., Simon, P., & Kirsch, P. (2015). Stress in school. Some empirical hints on the circadian cortisol rhythm of children in outdoor and indoor classes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(1), 1232-1245. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28468292/
Children who lived in homes with more "greenness" in their surroundings had better cognitive functioning than children who lived in less green environments.
Source: Wells, N. M. (2000). At home with nature: Effects of "greenness" on children's cognitive functioning. Environment and Behavior, 32(6), 775-795. https://doi.org/10.1177/00139160021972793
Children who participated in outdoor education programs had improved social skills, as well as enhanced knowledge and attitudes towards the environment.
Source: Wu, J. C., Chiou, W. B., Tseng, Y. C., & Sung, H. C. (2015). The effects of outdoor education programs on middle school students' interpersonal skills, self-esteem, and environmental attitudes. Adolescence, 50(200), 330-341. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26421292
4. Having a social emotional learning curriculum starting from a young age leads to improved SEL skills, increased positive attitudes toward self & others, and greater success later in life.
A meta-analysis by Durlak et al. (2011) found that children who participated in SEL programs had improved social and emotional skills, increased positive attitudes towards themselves and others, and better academic performance compared to those who did not participate in such programs.
Souce: Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21291449/
Research by Jones and Bouffard (2012) emphasizes the importance of a whole-school approach to SEL, which involves not just implementing programs but also creating a positive school climate that supports SEL.
Souce: Bouffard, S. M., Cook, C. R., & Nava, G. L. (2012). Creating a positive school climate for students with disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 44(2), 8-16. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/004005991204400202
Research by Payton et al. (2008) highlights the importance of early intervention, as children who develop social and emotional skills early in life are more likely to experience success later on.
Souce: Payton, J. W., Wardlaw, D. M., Graczyk, P. A., Bloodworth, M. R., Tompsett, C. J., & Weissberg, R. P. (2008). Social and emotional learning: A framework for promoting mental health and reducing risk behavior in children and youth. Journal of School Health, 78(9), 486-495. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1746-1561.2008.00365.x