Being bilingual looks great on a resume these days. If you are proficient in more than one language, you become more marketable as an employee and more doors open up for you depending on what business you are looking to go into once you enter the job market. This is often the pitch given to parents and prospective foreign language students in American schools, but this sort of education is provided much later on than in many other parts of the world. For that reason, many American children fail to completely attain any useful level proficiency within the language they study (unless personally motivated), unlike children from elsewhere in the world. Teaching children multiple languages from the get-go is much more likely to make an impact and really stick. Not only that, but learning languages early on also yields a broad range of cognitive benefits that can help children as they grow and develop.
Children in other parts of the world, including Europe and Asia, begin learning a second language at the pre-k or kindergarten level, sometimes adding on a third or fourth language later on. The American school system, however, does not tend to implement or even introduce foreign language education until sixth or seventh grade when children are already twelve or thirteen. By this time, a child’s brain is less impressionable in terms of language, and studying another tongue can be increasingly difficult if introduced after puberty. While many schools in America do not offer language classes as part of their curriculum until the middle grades, that does not mean that you have to wait to teach your child a new language.
If you want to teach your child a new language, you can begin teaching them from the moment they are born if you want to, but you can wait until they are in pre-k or kindergarten as well. If you or your child’s other parent happen to be bilingual you can be beneficial, however, you can ask others for help such as family members or friends and you can even employ children’s books and programs that they can listen to and take part in as they learn to communicate by using language.
There have been many studies conducted on the effects that languages have on children. Results have proven that kids who learn more than one language tend to do better in a variety of subjects including reading and science, perform better on standardized tests and exhibit more advanced problem-solving and spatial abilities. Additionally, some other studies have shown that learning a second language can help prevent senility and extend your lifespan as well. The reason why it is better for children to begin learning a new language when they are younger versus adolescence or even young adulthood is because they are much more likely to gain proficiency.
There are plenty of ways that you can incorporate multiple languages into a child’s life, and if they learn more than one language while they are first learning to speak, they are more likely to grasp the rules of the language much more naturally as well as be able to pronounce letters and sounds not found in English. Even if you only speak English, you can take this as an opportunity to learn a new language alongside your child. Who knows, they may be able to teach you a thing or two themselves!
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