It’s impossible to argue with the benefits of being able to speak more than language, but learning languages becomes significantly more difficult as you get older. The best time for introducing a second (or third!) language, is when your children are young.
Numerous benefits of learning a second language
There are many benefits to encouraging multilingualism in your children. From a young age, it helps to develop interpersonal skills and confidence.
According to Antonella Sorace, a professor of developmental linguistics at Edinburgh University, “Children who are exposed to different languages become more aware of different cultures, other people, and other points of view. They also tend to be better than monolinguals at multitasking and are often more advanced readers”.
A study published by Psychological Science in the US National Library of Medicine looked at English and German-speaking monolinguals and bilinguals and found that the bilingual group could think more quickly and see things from a broader perspective than their monolingual counterparts.
As an added incentive to get your little one learning another language, the CEBR’s research also found that companies were willing to negotiate up to 7% higher salaries with bilingual candidates.
Techniques for teaching a second language
Start when they’re young
Children are in language acquisition mode when they are 2-3 years old. At this age, children absorb the phonetic sounds and speech patterns that they hear around them. This means that the more different sounds and patterns they are exposed to, the more likely they are to become multilingual.
Make learning fun
It’s important that your child doesn’t see their time spent learning a new language as studying or something they are being forced to do. By teaching them the new language in a fun way, you can ensure that they’ll keep practicing it.
Some engaging ways to learn a new language include singing songs and watching kid’s TV shows. There are also many educationals apps that present vocabulary and the basic building blocks of the language in a way that children will find engaging.
Be a patient teacher
This can be especially difficult if you’re teaching a language that you’re already fluent in. Through patient teaching, your child will gain confidence about speaking in the second language. Alternatively, if your toddler sense that you are getting impatient with them needing to repeat the vocabulary, they will lose their enthusiasm and curiosity very quickly.
These are the best languages to teach your little one to help them in the future
According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) working with Heathrow Airport, the key languages to learn are Mandarin, French and German to maximise their potential in the future.
Considering the growing nature of both China’s economy and power on the world stage (not to mention its enormous population!), Mandarin’s increasing prominence should come as no surprise. Singaporean students have an advantage compared to others when it comes to learning Mandarin since classes are offered from early grades and there is a large Mandarin-speaking population in Singapore.
Another popular language to learn is French. For children who speak English as their first language, learning French will be much easier than learning Mandarin. With the ability to speak French and another language, it opens the doors not only to travel to France and other French-speaking regions but creates the opportunity to work for companies that are expanding into the European region.
German is more difficult to learn than French due to its complicated grammatical structure, however, with one of the strongest economies in the world, it is one of the key languages of the worldwide economy. Additionally, German is widely spoken in Austria and Switzerland as well.
Have you tried teaching your little one a second language? Which language did you choose?
Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore