Young children are uniquely suited to learning a second language as their developing brain is hard-wired to acquire language, and many believe that teaching a child another language during their younger years is a valuable opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. In fact, it’s been suggested that it will never be as natural or easy for a person to learn than in the first few years of their lives. It’s pretty clear that learning languages for kids is easier and super beneficial, but in case you need to be convinced, here’s some more information.
The benefits of teaching your little one an additional or even multiple languages are abundant. Studies from Harvard University have shown that teaching children as young as three additional languages increases critical thinking skills, creativity and flexibility of the mind. It has also been established that it assists in helping children understand other cultures and increases their global awareness. This is a valuable tool to have in the increasingly multi-cultural world that we live in today. Not only that but if you think about it, you’re also giving your child a competitive edge in the global marketplace and possibly even a push on their career in later life.
Very young children have a natural ability to hear and imitate sounds perfectly and thus many experts agree that the earlier you start teaching them a new language the better.. There are a whole host of ways to teach your child while still making it fun including books, games, DVD’s and CD’s. However if your child isn’t able to learn a second language at home then there are many classes out there for children as young as pre-school age. Try and find one that is taught by a native speaker. If they learn to repeat words and phrases properly, they are more likely to end up with a near-native accent. Make sure the class is enjoyable. Engaging children through things like arts and crafts, songs, and games will make them much more likely to enjoy it and want to go back. Also make sure that the class is not too big. Too many pupils and they will not get the attention and help that is important if you are serious about them becoming fluent. Likewise don’t put them in classes that last too long as they are more likely to get bored and lose interest.
In terms of which language you go for, that is personal to both you and your child. Perhaps your little one has a different cultural heritage through their grandparents or cousins and you would like them to be able to communicate better with those family members. Maybe you plan to travel a lot with your child and want them to be more self-sufficient when you take them to rural lands. Or maybe you just want them to find a valuable tool which might help to further their career path when they grow older? Whatever your reasons there are a few languages that are considered the most beneficial to a child’s future self. As Spanish is the second most popular language in the US, it is a popular choice for parents. French is considered a slightly easier language to learn and France is ranked number one on the international tourist list. Mandarin is now considered an invaluable language to learn in this day and age, given China’s huge population, growing economy and increasing political power in the business world. Finally, Arabic has proven to be hugely useful to many, especially those that choose to go into government work.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to teach that little cherub of yours a second language, if they are at pre-school age or even above, there’s never been a better time to get them learning.