Professor/Dr. Laura Ann Petitto
I am a Cognitive Neuroscientist who conducts research on the optimal learning conditions for children to achieve bilingual language mastery and reading. I also conduct research on the impressive brain processing advantages afforded to the bilingual and multilingual individual, including the discovery of language and higher cognitive benefits in young bilingual children over monolingual children that span life. With this foundation, I was thrilled to be invited to Shanghai, China to visit the model bilingual school, “Shanghai Victoria Kindergarten,” July 11, 2016. The invitation was extended by the internationally esteemed educator, Dr. Maggie Koong, known for her revolutionary advances in bilingual education and her model bilingual schools for young children (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan). I had the good fortune of first meeting Dr. Koong at an international conference on the Science of Learning (convened in Shanghai, China) while Dr. Koong was the President of the United Nations/World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP/based in Paris). I was so impressed by Dr. Koong’s innovative ideas about educating young bilingual and multilingual children that I eagerly accepted her invitation to visit her bilingual schools in Shanghai and Hong Kong and what I observed was remarkable: Dr. Koong’s bilingual schools are built on the best of the world’s research and represent the forefront of knowledge on bilingual education. I and my many science colleagues judge the bilingual and multilingual curricula advanced in Dr. Koong’s schools as providing the best, most top tier education possible for children today. I have personally witnessed the participatory learning and discovery teaching methods in her schools that captivate the children’s interest and motivation and lead to the children’s superior learning outcomes. To be sure, Dr. Koong’s schools are a model for bilingual education across the world.
Professor/Dr. Laura Ann Petitto, National Science Foundation, Science of Learning Center, VL2, Co-PI and Science Director, Washington D.C.; Former Recipient of the Sin Wai-Kin Distinguished Visiting Professorship, University of Hong Kong