July 13, 2024

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Education, What Else?

Tips And Benefits Of Learning A New Language As A Child

5 min read
Tips And Benefits Of Learning A New Language As A Child

Whether monolingual or bilingual, you’ve probably considered introducing your child to a second language. Most parents put off the idea of teaching their children a second language for various reasons. However, knowing the best time to introduce a new language to your child is important if you are for this idea.

It’s never too early to introduce a new language to your kids. Be it Korean, Spanish, or Chinese, several studies have found that teaching new languages to kids boosts intellectual and cognitive development. Unlike adults, introducing a new language to your child earlier makes it easier for them to pick up and become fluent. Below are a few tips that can ease the introduction:

1. Get started early

Surprisingly, infants are born with an innate ability to mimic general sounds of languages. By 10 months, they can narrow down to specific sounds they can hear around them. If you want to ease your child into a second language, consider introducing it in their first year of life.

For bilingual families, one parent can start introducing the second language to the baby slowly. If you prefer introducing the new language to your toddler later, waiting until they are 18 to 20 months is best.

2. Find a good class

While you can teach your child the new language at home, enrolling them to an online class simplifies learning. Online classes provided by World Kids School and other tutors make it easy for toddlers to learn new languages. You should consider the following when looking for a school:

  • It should be taught by native speakers – Most children who learn a foreign language before puberty can speak it with a near-native accent. However, ensuring that a native speaker teaches the language is important as it helps learners learn the correct words and phrases.
  • Fun and engaging – A good class should integrate various learning aspects, such as songs, games, and arts, to make learning fun and engaging for children. For instance, if kids are learning Mandarin, the teacher may use games that can teach children songs in Mandarin. Cooking, dancing, and other activities also help kids build their vocabularies.
  • Type of program – You should also inquire about the schools’ teaching programs. Depending on your child’s learning ability, you can opt for private lessons for them to learn at their pace. Some schools have group sessions for six to eight students.

3. Complement learning at home

You should also complement what your kids learn in school by offering more learning opportunities at home. Below are a few ways to complement your kids’ learning of a new language:

  • Buy books, videos, CDs, picture books, and encourage your kids to watch TV shows that speak foreign languages.
  • Help your child find oversees pen pal from a country that speaks their new language of interest
  • Sample foods in restaurants from foreign countries
  • Label household items like toys in the foreign language
  • Provide interaction and socializing opportunities with people who are fluent in the foreign language

4. Include foreign language in your daily activities

Children can easily absorb things in their early years. This means you don’t need special aids to enhance foreign language learning. Including foreign languages in your daily activities, such as shopping, walking in the park, and playing, can ease learning. For instance, you can start naming objects, colors, and other shapes first in your native language, then the target language. This makes it easier for kids to associate their native and foreign languages.

Learning A New Language As A Child

Benefits of Introducing Your Child to a New Language

While it may prove difficult, the benefits of introducing your child to a new language are worth the struggle. Key benefits of teaching your child at a young age include:

1) It fosters creativity

While growing children are generally creative, introducing them to a new language fosters their creativity. Speaking a new language besides their native language also improves their problem-solving skills. Bilingual children can easily excel at tests because they are confident and comfortable thinking outside the box.

2) It helps them thrive academically

Good grades were initially the hallmark of academic excellence. However, the education realm has changed as schools and universities prefer students with diverse skills and abilities. While you shouldn’t push kids beyond their limits, motivating them to learn a new language increases their chances of being accepted by top schools and universities.

3) Speaking a new language makes them more social

Learning a foreign language is also a life hack in many ways. For instance, learning English, Spanish, and French makes kids inclined to socialize with others who speak these languages. Speaking multiple languages also encourages one to travel around and build friendships quickly. Learning a foreign language makes it easy for kids to interact with people from different nationalities and backgrounds.

4) Cognitive and mental health benefits

Learning a foreign language also improves your kid’s mental agility, concentration, memory, and attention. They can also better perform multiple tasks and understand concepts with ease. Bilingual children, including two-year-olds, can adapt to environmental changes more quickly than monolingual children.

5) Encourages empathy

Learning a new language often comes with a better understanding of cultural differences and unique perspectives of the new language. This makes bilingual children more empathic than monolingual kids. Bilingual children can easily understand other people’s perspectives, thoughts, desires, and intentions.

6) Better opportunities in future

Introducing your child to a new language broadens their employment opportunities in the future. Besides, some employers, especially in international diplomacy, tourism, journalism, and teaching realms, prefer employees who can speak multiple languages. Speaking a foreign language also increases the chances of working abroad.

7) Cultural awareness

Children who learn foreign languages develop curiosity and a better appreciation of different cultures and the world around them. Learning a new language makes them aware of unique cultures and encourages open-mindedness and tolerance of other cultures.

Endnote

Introducing your child to a foreign language is beneficial but shouldn’t be done forcefully. If your child shows disinterest or seems tired, give them a break. You should be patient and provide them with enough time to learn at their pace. Complementing what they’ve learned through games, books, music, and other fun activities can improve their learning pace and retention.

Gary is a TEFL certified English language instructor and teacher trainer. He has a strong academic background and a rich experience in teaching students of diverse cultures. He likes helping learners to overcome their English learning barriers. His strengths are in creating a positive learning environment, applying learners centered strategies, and having a passion for teaching. He teaches in a state school in Orlando.

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