Bilingualism: The Importance of Teaching Children More Than One Language | El Paso, Texas, USA!
Languages are important, this is a known fact. I grew up bilingual, speaking English and Spanish. I also took French in high school as a third language, and even though I’m not fluent in it, I’m still certain that I helped shape my brain and my memory.
Research has proven that that the earlier a child learns a second language, the better it is. Not only are their brains sharp enough to retain the knowledge and become fluent in that second language, it can also help them in other things, such as long-term memory. People who know more than one language are less prone to suffer from dementia and other memory related illnesses. But not just that, learning a second language early has other perks.
See for yourself!
- It’s good for the development of their brain: As I have already stated, learning a second language earlier in age is good for the brain (and good is a euphemism). Young children find it easier to pick up new languages, compared to their older counterparts. Those who start learning a new language at the age of 3 have generally a higher IQ, are better at decision making, have a better focus, and are more creative. Not just that, but learning a new language allows children to actually have different ways of thinking, each way for each language they know. Crazy, right? They also become infused by the culture of the language they’re learning, so they grow up to be more tolerant and understanding of other people’s traditions and points of view.
- It helps develop discipline: Learning a new language requires everyday work, diligence, and effort. All of this will help your child learn about the importance of discipline and hard work.
- It widens their future job prospects: A recruiter will always choose the person who speaks 2 or more languages to the one who only knows English. In most countries where English isn’t the first language, learning it as a second language during elementary school is a requirement. In some European countries, people speak as much as 6 languages. Fluently. And in a few years, they might compete with your child for a job. The more languages your child is fluent in, the more job opportunities he or she can grab.
Now, we’ve seen the benefits of speaking two or more languages, but how do you make sure your child learns a second language efficiently? This is how you can help them at home:
- Choose a language they will use in real life: There are so many languages to choose from. Please be sure to choose something they can carry over into their adult lives.
- Repetition is the key: To learn a new language, children need to be engaged by it daily. They need to be exposed to words and phrases they can connect to form actual sentences. Parents, memorizing words and songs does not count! The secret is to internalize and give the language the time and effort it requires for it to really stick. So, if you already know that language, you can try and talk to them in it a few moments a day. For example, if you’re doing an activity together, try to explain the various elements in that second language.
- Use online classes: There are many websites and apps that offer online learning classes. Some of them are for free, like for example, the learning app Duolingo, which I have been personally using to learn a foreign language.
- Make it fun: If you don’t make it fun, chances are your child won’t really be interested in it. So, create your own languages board game, make stories up using that language, or just play learning games where you ask them to translate words, and if they get 5 words right in a row, they win something!
Helping your children learn a new language should be something that you both find enjoyable. So go on, invent games, make it fun, and most importantly, always remember that learning a whole new language isn’t the easiest, so be patient!