In an increasingly globalised world where English is spoken more and more frequently, learning a second language can seem unnecessary. However, it’s never too late to encourage our children to pick up another language. Here are some of the benefits to learning additional languages, as well as a few tips on dealing with roadblocks that commonly arise.
Why learn a second language?
The overarching goal of learning a language is to be able to communicate with people from other cultures. Here are some of the logical, sociocultural and personal benefits.
- Logical benefits – It opens the brain’s pathways more than any other academic activity
- Sociocultural benefits – It helps one understand other societies and cultures better
- Personal benefits – It immensely increases your employment and travel opportunities
Establishing learning goals
No matter what language or what level of fluency you are trying to achieve, by establishing a solid motive, you can set SMART goals to achieve it. Learning a language is an accumulative experience, so by staying consistent, you are always building your word bank and improving your fluency.
The earlier a child is exposed to a second language, the better. Studies show that the most optimal age to start learning is at the age of 9, due to the brain’s elasticity at that stage of a child’s development.
Tips and tricks
There is no substitute for cultural immersion. The extra pressure teaches you to learn quicker and more effectively. At least a month abroad is recommended to get the best experience.
Children find it especially hard to find internal motivation in activities that take a long time to bear fruit. That’s why parental encouragement is so helpful for children who want to learn a second language.
Learning a language doesn’t have to be from scratch. By identifying common cognates, words, or ways of expressing ideas, you can adapt them to your native tongue to make learning easier.
Learning a second language is a tough but rewarding experience. As parents, we can communicate this to our children and encourage them. Find out more about the importance of learning languages by listening to The Parent-Teacher Project’s episode below, including a list of schools that provide programs for children who want to learn a second language!
This article was inspired by episode #59 of The Parent-Teacher Project entitled Learning Languages With Your Child by Isabelle Thomas and Stefan Drevikovsky.
Listen to the entire episode below.
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