by David Frey
Parents, teachers, and caregivers always want what’s best for their children, whether that’s satisfying their interest in ballet, curiosity about music, or their love of science; language-learning is no different. Caregivers should encourage children to learn a second language to set them up for certain advantages while simultaneously being a fun extracurricular activity.
Learning a second language can help children develop problem-solving, critical-thinking, and multitasking skills, all of which will benefit them in their adult lives. Other benefits include more highly developed listening skills, creative skills, flexible thinking, and improved memory and concentration. To learn Chinese, for example, brings about a new way of thinking, sensitive listening for inflection in tones, expanded visual thinking about Chinese characters, and representation of symbols.
Continue reading as we discuss the benefits and reasons why children should learn a second language.
Children who learn a second language tend to perform better in subjects like math, reading, and writing. Schools also report patterns of higher standardized test scores, reading achievement, better use of vocabulary in their native language, and better performance once they get to college. Learning another language helps children learn how to study and to practice the skills needed for success in academics and life.
Kids who achieve highly in academics tend to have bright futures. Higher exam scores can lead to going to sought-after universities and lucrative fields of study. Their creative and problem-solving skills are valuable to potential employers and make them more likely to contribute to society.
Exposing children to another language early on can positively affect their soft skills, like their attitudes, curiosity, empathy towards other cultures. When the brain is elastic, as it is in young children, it’s open to new experiences and soaks up the surrounding ideas. This elasticity could be part of learning to adapt to new situations and being curious and tolerant about situations and languages that are foreign to their own.
Each culture has unique ways of saying things, and words for different ideas and concepts that may not exist in English; learning about these concepts can give children new ideas and present a new way of thinking about the world. For example, Chinese has words for things that don’t exist in English, like words for “cuteness,” “responsibility to family,” and more. Consequently, children who learn Chinese will gain insight into Chinese culture that could be valuable to them for future employment or travel in our ever-advancing global economy.
Since language-learning can be fun, children may develop a more positive attitude toward learning, extracurricular activities, and school in general. It can be rewarding and helps them exercise all of their modes of learning, like speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Children who learn a second language may celebrate that culture’s holidays in class and experience activities in an extracurricular setting that they won’t find in regular subjects.
Learning another language can also make children more confident with developing new skills, especially if they can use their language skills while traveling later on in life. They may be more adventurous and willing to see new places and try new things as they grow.
Because the world’s economy is becoming increasingly globalized, we’re in contact with other cultures more frequently. Children are at an advantage of knowing other cultures, as many countries depend on one another and that relationship is essential for businesses to relate to their customers. Countries need future leaders with a big picture of the world in mind and those who can anticipate any complications when interacting with another culture.
Travel and the internet will only get more accessible and more widespread, so it’s incredibly valuable for children to grow up and be able to navigate this global economy; language-learning is part of that. For us to function in a global marketplace, learning new languages is crucial.
The benefits of language-learning are far more than something to add to your child’s resume; it can have positive, lasting effects on their development and life. In addition to academic skills, children can learn skills that are hard to come by, such as tolerance, flexible thinking, creativity, and open-mindedness. Having another language can open up a new way of thinking and a whole new world of possibilities for children. It’s an option worth exploring, especially if it’ll bring out the best in your child and set them up for a bright future.