The more you observe the world, the more you want your children to grow into strong, tolerant, and understanding people. You want to make sure your kids have the mental and emotional capacity to positively interact with people from diverse backgrounds.
But how do you help them develop that capacity?
First, you start early by exposing your children to other cultures and beliefs. And part of that exposure includes other languages, especially those languages that your kids might come across on a regular basis, like Spanish from Latin America or French from Canada.
As your kids learn these languages, the cultures and peoples associated with those tongues won’t seem so unapproachable to them. They’ll grow up with fewer cultural barriers. They’ll also reap the benefits listed below.
1. Children Retain Foreign Languages Better Than Adults
You likely learned your first foreign language as a teenager in high school. And at that point, you likely felt embarrassed to practice in front of your peers. You also had many other things to occupy your mind and your time, so you may have promptly forgotten everything about that language as soon as you graduated.
Or maybe you studied a language during your university years. How well did you retain it after you didn’t use it anymore?
Children do not have the same challenges with learning a language that teenagers or adults do. They don’t have all their other studies to distract them, at least not to the same extent. And they don’t usually feel as embarrassed if they make mistakes. Additionally, they’re still at the developmental stage where they learn their first language, so their brains have just the right makeup for learning a second one at the same time.
If you introduce your children to a second language at age three, they’ll retain the vocabulary and grammar structure better. They’ll also stay fluent in that language for the rest of their lives.
2. Children Learn Better Critical Thinking Skills as They Translate
Most kids don’t get exposure to critical thinking until they start elementary school. But their brains can handle complex problem solving much sooner.
When they learn a second language, children have to associate multiple words with the same object or action. They have to differentiate between each language, which forces them to think critically. Kids also have to learn how to express themselves in this new tongue, which means that they’ll think creatively too. These skills give your kids an automatic boost when they enter school.
3. Children Develop Enhanced Memories
As your kids study Spanish, French, Mandarin, or any other language, they’ll have to use mnemonics like rhymes or flash cards to make sure they remember everything. They exercise their memories so often that it’ll become second nature to them to learn anything else. So when your children start kindergarten, they won’t have any trouble retaining what their teachers tell them.
4. Children Become Better at Multitasking
When you speak another language, you multitask. You think of what you want to say, you translate it in your mind, and you speak it out loud. And the faster you speak, the more of these tasks you do at the same time. Your children do the same, so they’ll develop the ability to multitask much earlier than their peers. Your kids will enter kindergarten armed with skills that other students won’t have for years.
5. Children Develop Empathy and Understanding for Others
As mentioned above, other languages expose your children to other cultures, so those cultures won’t seem so strange to them. But as your kids become fluent in second or third languages, they won’t just feel tolerance. They will also feel empathy because they can more easily connect with the cultures that accompany those languages. And that empathy makes them a more informed voter and a better world citizen.
6. Children Become Better at English
Many parents worry that if they teach their children other languages, their kids will feel confused and mash up all the different vocabularies into one super language. These parents don’t want to ruin their children’s chances at English fluency, so they wait until later to introduce a second tongue.
However, you can set this worry aside. Your children’s brains can organize language better than you think, especially if you emphasize the distinction between the two languages. For example, you may only speak Spanish on certain occasions or in certain situations, such as at your favorite restaurant or with your Spanish-speaking friends. This tactic will help your kids keep the languages separate.
Do your child a favor. Enroll them at Miniapple Int’l Montessori where foreign languages are included in the curriculum. The mental stimulus that comes with the second language will put your children on the fast track to success both at school and in their future careers.