Updated: Nov 11, 2022
Benefits of learning a second language at a young age
Learning a new language is rewarding at any age, but children benefit from learning another language at a very young age. Research studies particularly support starting bilingual education at preschool level. Very young children are quick to learn and pick up a new language especially when it is taught in a fun interactive way. This is something we strive to do at our English Learning Centre.
Research has shown that children who learned a second language at a young age demonstrated cognitive advantages, such as increased problem-solving skills and creativity.
Here are some of the benefits
Give Them a Head Start
Children who learn another language before age five use the same part of the brain to acquire that second language that they use to learn their mother tongue. Younger learners are also uninhibited by the fear of making mistakes, which is sometimes an obstacle for older beginners.
Start Early, Stay Long!
The length of time a student is able to devote to learning a language has a direct and positive correlation to cognitive development. Longer sequences also provide the opportunity for learners to grow alongside the additional language and culture, developing a deeper connection as they mature.
Feed Their Brains
Research into the effects of bilingualism on children suggests that exposure to more than one language is an excellent way of flexing those brain muscles - and building them up. It has been shown that learning a second language boosts problem-solving, critical-thinking, and listening skills, in addition to improving memory, concentration, and the ability to multitask. Children proficient in other languages also show signs of enhanced creativity and mental flexibility.
Boost Their Academic Achievement
Numerous reports have proven students who have studied a foreign language perform much better than their monolingual peers on many standardized tests, including all sections of the SAT. In fact, the 2007 College Bound Seniors report, issued by the College Board, which administers the SAT, shows significant benefits of studying a foreign language. The report shows that students with 4 or more years of foreign language study score on average 140 points higher (out of 800!) than students with half a year or less experience.
Nurture Their Curiosity, Cultural Sensitivity, Empathy, and Tolerance
Children who are exposed early to other languages display more positive attitudes to the cultures associated with those languages. The experience of learning a language introduces them to the world in ways they might otherwise have not experienced. Some of us are lucky enough to have a relative who still speaks the foreign language from his or her nationality, being able to communicate with elder relatives helps them to learn more about their nationality, family history and traditions.
Don’t Hesitate: Go for Two… or Three
Contrary to popular belief, young children are not confused by the introduction of multiple languages at the same time. Not only do they naturally navigate multilingual environments but acquiring a second language early in life primes the brain to learn multiple other languages, opening a world of opportunities for later on.
Better and More Advanced Reading Skills
A study undertaken by York University in Canada suggests that bilingual children’s knowledge of a second language gives them an advantage in learning to read.
Children are always discovering new things, and for children learning a language comes to them more naturally and tends to be fun as they learn in play type activities. This accomplishment gives them the confidence they need, as well.
An All-Family Activity
Starting this process early with your child or children provides your family with an activity and an experience it can return to and grow with over the years. Your child and your family will benefit—in these ways and others—from learning a second language. And the benefits of learning a foreign language last for many years to come.
What You Can Do to Help Your Child
Whether you are bilingual, or this is your first experience with another language, your support will make a tremendous difference to your child’s success. You don’t have to be fluent in the language your child is learning in order to create an encouraging and active learning environment. Provide as many opportunities for authentic experiences as you can, teaching them in a fun and interactive way can create a life long love of learning.
It is clear that second language study offers many advantages for children in terms of improved communicative ability, cognitive development, and cultural awareness. It’s never too soon to start your child on the path of second language acquisition, so start today!
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Looking for ways to create fun in your child's learning check out our digital learning program