Did you know that mastering another language can open the door to a world of new possibilities for your family? That’s right, as a bilingual person myself, I’ve experienced some of these benefits firsthand. Bening bilingual has given me a broad perspective on the world, helped me obtain many job opportunities, conquer several academic goals, and connect with locals when I travel abroad. Now imagine what it can do for your child!
The advantages of learning foreign languages are plenty and can help set them up for success in nearly every aspect of life. Here are the top five benefits of being bilingual (or trilingual):
1. Strengthens Cognitive Abilities
Research shows that those who know more than one language have far stronger cognitive abilities. Cognitive skills include attention control, multi-tasking, memory, problem-solving, and audio processing. Children who learn a second language actively sharpen their brains. Therefore, they become better problem-solvers, creative thinkers, and masters of their attention span.
2. Become Global Citizens
As students learn additional languages, they also become educated on various cultures. Learning about different cultures helps students identify the similarities and differences as they become more empathetic, understanding, and inclusive global citizens.
3. Opens Academic and Professional Opportunities
While your child might be a long way away from college or their professional career, it’s not too early to start equipping them with tools to give them an advantage! Communicating with a diverse population of people is very beneficial as a college applicant and in the job market. Those who know more than one language stand out from other candidates and are often more employable, especially for companies that serve multilingual populations. At Schola, we can help you identify Language Immersion Schools in your area. Language Immersion is a technique used in bilingual language education where teachers use two languages for instruction in various topics, including math, science, or social studies. Research has shown that such a form of bilingual education provides students with overall greater language comprehension and production.
4. Improve Social Skills and Confidence
When students know more than one language, it significantly increases the number of people they can communicate with! The more people your child can converse with, the more opportunities they can build meaningful relationships, empathize with others, and improve their social skills. Additionally, knowing a second language can also boost confidence levels!
5. Bonds Families
That’s right! When the whole family is improving their bilingual abilities, it improves communication among family members and can enhance emotional bonds. It also increases the number of movies, shows, and music you can enjoy as a family. Raising your children in a bilingual home can also help boost your family’s sense of cultural belonging.
Now, how can you encourage your child to learn a new language? Here are three tips to get you started!
It’s Never Too Early
We’ve all heard that young minds are “like a sponge” and can learn a second or even a third language faster. That is because research has found that children’s intuitive ability to learn the rules of any language and achieve native-like pronunciation reduces as they grow older. In fact, babies can pick up on distinctive sounds of their native language even while being in utero. So keep in mind, as the saying goes: the earlier, the better! For the younger ones, start exposing them to sounds through music, and as they get older, you can begin introducing single words and phrases in a second language. When they hear you use these words, they’ll also start using them in their day-to-day conversations even faster than you think through repetition and association. Finally, it goes without saying that the more years committed to learning a language and the more they use it, the greater the proficiency that they will achieve.
Identify Supportive Tools
Immersion is vital for learning a second language; for example, increasing exposure to the second language at home can be a total game-changer. Make it fun by reading books or watching shows in this new language; it will encourage them to associate the images with the sounds they listen to or the new words they read. Another supportive tool can be hiring a bilingual babysitter or tutor to introduce and reinforce the new language through their everyday interactions.
Say ‘Au Revoir’ to Misconceptions
Have you heard that bilingualism confuses children? Don’t worry, because it is not true! Children who learn two or more languages simultaneously might take a little longer to develop vocabulary in each language compared to monolingual kids, but expanding their linguistic capabilities will be more rewarding long term. For example, they will be able to understand other cultures, expressions, and communication styles. This can be a confidence booster and encourage them to appreciate the world around them with an open mind.
Being bilingual gives children an advantage and an opportunity to grow into better learners. Especially with Spanish, there are several schools that not only offer Spanish courses, but actually integrate Spanish directly into the curriculum for a bilingual learning experience. Whether your child is already bilingual or just getting started developing their language abilities, you can support your child’s learning through enrolling them in a school with a bilingual curriculum and practicing with them outside the classroom. In addition, Schola can help you discover, connect, and register your students in a school with a bilingual program so your children can grow into smart global citizens faster than you think.