Though the world isn’t actually getting smaller, we now live in a world where non stop flights from the UK to Australia exist. So you get the point when we say that “the world is getting smaller”. Everyone can be connected in less than a minute thanks to the internet. We’re exploring more and more cultures in our everyday lives. These are all fantastic things!
In this connected world, the ability to communicate with one another is more invaluable than ever, and mastering a second language helps set children up for lifelong success. It’s widely acknowledged that it’s easier to learn a language when you’re a child. With that said, the benefits of learning a second language go much further.
Learning a second language means that you literally always have a second option in your head. If you’re not sure how to say something in one language, a bilingual brain will fill in the gap so that you have a word to convey your meaning. This extends to when you’re looking at a difficult situation, giving your child new ways to think around a problem. Need proof? Bilinguals on average score higher on tests including creative thinking or problem solving!
Social, emotional and interpersonal advantages
Speaking a second or even third language means being constantly conscious of ensuring that you’re speaking the right language with the right person. Being aware of the needs of your audience extends out even further, making you more aware of the other person’s needs and reactions to your speech.
Visiting foreign countries will always be an adventure, and although English can sometimes be understood in major tourist hubs — there’s much more of the world to see! Even if you’re visiting a country which doesn’t speak your native language, you’d be surprised how often you bump into someone who speaks another language you know. This is especially true if your child learns a common language; such as: Mandarin, French, German, or Arabic.
Given how globalised our world is becoming, being able to work in two languages puts children at an advantage academically. This is both when it comes to their eventual university or job applications.
Easier to learn younger
It’s commonly noted that it’s difficult to learn new things the older you get. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, or so the saying goes. Though this isn’t entirely true, it is true that we learn more quickly when we’re younger. The young brain is far more malleable, and able to take on new ideas and concepts.
We’re always learning new words, but the amount of new words that you have to take on as an adult is much lower than when you’re a child. Because they’re already soaking up one language like a sponge, they’re primed to take a second language too.
Speaking a second language to fluency or near fluency has one other major benefit, it changes the way children see communication in future. When you only speak one language until adulthood, you might believe that you’ll only ever be proficient in another, not fluent. The same goes for acquiring skills. Children don’t typically have this self limiting view which really only occurs with age. When a child is learning to walk, they fall over at least 50 times. But they never decide “this walking thing isn’t for me”. Instead, they get up again and again, and keep going. The same goes for languages. Bringing children in to the idea of constantly learning without limitations sets them up with a prosperous outlook for life.