Are you interested in your child learning a second language, but aren’t sure if it’s worth it?
We’re here to let you know that learning a foreign language is a great decision, especially at a time in our lives when it comes so naturally. Here are a few things you should know before your child starts learning.
When to teach your child a second language
Generally, the best time to start teaching your child a second language is in their first year. This is because, at around 10 months, they begin narrowing the range of sounds they hear.
Don’t worry if your child is older and you haven’t started teaching them a second language yet. If this is the case, it’s better to wait until they are around 2 years old, as this is typically when they begin their ‘vocabulary explosion’.
Learning languages is easier at a young age
You might have heard the expression “children’s brains are like sponges”. This couldn’t be more true!
The early years are a vital time when cognitive development occurs, so they will learn a second language much faster and easier than they would as an adult. Your little one simply has a brain that is designed to learn a new language at this age.
Children also have fewer inhibitions. As an adult, you might be worried more about making mistakes or sounding silly, whereas children are usually more comfortable. Children at this age, of course, have a lot more time on their hands too to learn a second language, so it really is a no brainer to start in the early years.
It enhances the brain
Learning a second language can also boost your little one’s thinking and memory skills, as well as their creativity. They will be able to problem solve easier and naturally have critical thinking skills.
A 2004 study by psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin-Rhee found that bilingual children were more successful at dividing objects by shape and colour than children who only knew one language. This suggests that bilingual children are better at solving mental puzzles.
CREDIT: ADAPTED FROM O.A. OLULADE ET AL / CEREBRAL CORTEX 2016
This is because learning another language increases the volume and density of grey and white matter, which is responsible for processing information (including memory, speech and sensory perception), as well as brain connectivity. So, your child will also be more receptive to learning in other areas as a result of learning a second language.
Improves academic achievement and opportunities
This might sound obvious, but children who learn a second language have improved reading, writing and listening skills. All of which are crucial when it comes to school.
Since you’ll want your child to be focusing on school when they eventually reach it, it might be worthwhile to get started before they even begin the early years of school.
It might be scary to think so far ahead, but a second language opens up so many employment opportunities! In today’s job climate, more and more companies are seeking employees that speak more than one language, and these roles are usually higher paid.
It exposes them to new cultures
Something that is so important to learn as a child is general cultural appreciation. It is vital that children learn to respect and understand cultural differences, but it is also a great way to learn about the world around them.
Children who learn a second language display more empathy towards others and are more receptive to other cultures, which is crucial in today’s society.
A second language simply opens a whole new door for cultural learning, and travel too! One day, hopefully, your child will be able to put their language skills to use when they travel abroad.
They will likely learn more languages in the future
Once your child has learned one language, it opens up so many more languages to learn! This is especially true with European languages which are very similar. In general, once you have learned one language, the skills you used to learn the language will be with you forever.
That being said, you’ll probably want to stick with only one other language whilst your child is under the age of 5. Otherwise, they might become confused and struggle to express themselves for a while.
Learn French at Little Angels Nursery
Here at Little Angels, we include French classes as part of our extra-curricular at the nursery! Find out more about our bilingual education here.