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June 2016

5 Reasons to Teach Your Kids a Foreign Language

Why you should get your kids learning a new language as soon as possible

Many adults who have learned a foreign language at an early age often take that skill for granted. After all, it was simply acquired, a talent that has been with said person since childhood. But to those who know only one language, not learning a foreign language at an early age can be a huge regret, a missed opportunity. There are many great reasons for children to learn a foreign language at an early age. Here are five good reasons to get your kids started.

Children have greater brain plasticity

Young children have developing minds. Their brains are still absorbing the world, learning what information and skills to keep and which to toss aside. As we grow older, our brains become less plastic, and we are less able to acquire new knowledge at such a seemingly easy state.

The high plasticity of the brain of a young child is a big reason why it’s great to get kids learning a foreign language early. Unlike adult learners, they’ll pick up the language much more organically and fluidly. This, in fact, is the concept behind many popular language learning software programs today: to teach adults to learn a new language as a child might, through images and context. However, children still do it better.

Learning languages is a healthy hobby

Children are active and can frequently get into trouble with too much idle time. Setting aside some time to learn a new language is a great brain-developing hobby for the child. If the kid is particularly restless, instruction should be tailored to be more engaging. It should not feel like studying, rather learning a new language for a child should be like discovering a new universe. Studies have shown that learning languages helps exercise the brain, and we all want our kids to have as healthy brains as possible. Consider it cardio for the mind.

They’ll have a better understanding of their native language


One of the benefits of learning a new language is how the learning process helps us understand better our native languages. Children often take their ability to speak for granted. Learning a new language adds another communicative style into the mix, thus forcing the learner to reevaluate one’s native language. Comparing and contrasting grammatical rules between the languages can also help the learner understand them better.

It will help them in the future with school and work

Besides simply being “cool”, knowing a second or third language helps immensely in school and work. When it comes time for the child to select a new language for study in school, they’ll already be prepared, whether they choose to continue learning the languages they already know or if they choose to pursue a new course. Knowing one foreign language helps us approach learning subsequent foreign languages.

In terms of the workplace, the ability to speak another language doesn’t just look great on the CV, but it also helps in certain careers like international relations, PR, and business. This helpfulness really depends on which language a person already knows, of course, as some languages are more useful in certain careers than others. Mandarin, for example, is invaluable for business, while Arabic is sought after for defense and political fields.

They’ll develop an awareness of other cultures


Perhaps the greatest benefit for a child learning a foreign language is the developed awareness of other cultures distinct from his or her own. This is especially true for children living in faraway towns with a very homogenised demography. Learning a new language shows a child that there is more to the world than that which he or she sees and interacts with. It adds a new way of describing the world, and thus a new way of seeing it.

There are many ways to teach children a new language. Next to moving to the country of the target language, immersion programs are possibly the second most effective method. These are schools that teach children in the native language and a target language. Weekend schools and home tutoring are also good options if there are no immersion programs in your neighborhood. Learning with your little one(s) would even be a fun family activity!

Did you learn a second language as a child? How has it helped you in your life? Let us know on our Facebook Page, and be sure to “like” TELC English for more language learning articles!

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