Better life opportunities for multi-lingual children

We all want to help our children on their journey in life and ensuring they learn a second language will provide them with better opportunities in life apart from enhancing their overall ability in all areas of development:

  • A usable skill that they can travel and find employment with from the day they leave school/college
  • Empathy for different cultures.
  • Improved mental agility and acuity
  • developing critical thinking, faster acquisition of literacy skills,

Unless you have experienced it first-hand, as a parent it is difficult to comprehend how young children seem to be able to learn a language so quickly.  I said ‘seem’ because there does not appear to be any proof or even consensus among scientists whether you children are better at learning than adults. In fact this article in the New Scientist argues the opposite. I only have the experience with my own kids to witness BUT it doesn’t detract from the fact that a second language is a usable skill that your children can use immediately when they arrive in the world as an adult.

Some examples;  Baby-sitting for a non-native family where they can pass on their abilities to other children will be advantageous, Online translation on sites as with Fiverr, Working holidays abroad as a language exchange student or as an au pair.

Aside from the improved employment opportunities such as working for a foreign company, an international business or as an interpreter with an embassy, TV company or simply teaching in language schools, they can take advantage of a more diverse education with the potential for foreign school exchanges and school trips abroad that they would otherwise have declined due to the language, the chance to read books in other languages and gain a more in depth understanding of other cultures.

That last point opens them up to a  more effective communication, a better understanding of the world, the chance to appreciate why other cultures act differently from our own (cultural competence) and far more importantly just how similar we all our in our objectives and aspirations as humans, regardless of the country of origin or our native language. It gives them a chance to broaden their social circles and for them to help bring communities closer together.

Still not convinced? Then consider what I find the most compelling reason of all; it actually improves mental ability. “Children in foreign language programs have tended to demonstrate greater cognitive development, creativity, and divergent thinking than monolingual children” The same academic study also stated “…another language enhances the academic skills of students by increasing their abilities in reading, writing, and mathematics” learning a second language actually make not just kids but everyone smarter.

Social Studies Research , so far suggests that the benefits of  bilingual or multilingual children are:

  • Improved executive functions – the ability to stay focused on a task
  • Better multitasking skills – from having the ability to think and act in 2 different languages
  • Improved memory – Bilinguals are better at retaining lists, names directions…
  • English is improved – by becoming more aware of the mechanics of language, structure, grammar
  • Improved perception –  the ability to filter out irrelevant information and focus on the important
  • Better cognitive skills and decision making   – languages are nuanced (this is why Google translate can make a mess of things) so a second language provides the skills to perceive subtleties which subconsciously influence judgement
  • Improved mental health – Dementia and Alzheimer’s can be delayed significantly by learning a second language Huffingtonpost
  • more efficient body language, social and emotional skills and other alternative communication skills

A child learning a second language will certainly gain advantages and will enjoy the benefits throughout their life.

 Written by today’s guest blogger, Dave Campbell

preschool age is the best time to start learning a foreign language or two. Multilingual or bilingual children benefit of many advantages throughout their lives

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