20 Jun 6 Surprising Skills Kids Acquire when Learning a Language (and it’s not fluency)
“Is it worth the resources and time for my kids to learn a language if they are not going to become fluent?” This is a valid and common dilemma for parents. As parents who will invest time and money in language learning, it is normal to look into their children’s long-term goals, especially those related to personal development.
Here are 6 benefits (which are as good as reaching full proficiency) that will inspire any parent to get their kids into learning a foreign language, without thinking twice:
1. Improved cognitive and memory skills.
Studies support that children learning a new language perform better in standardized tests and memory exercises. Language consists of simple and complex formations of letters and words that enhance the brain’s overall cognitive development. This applies to other school subjects as well, resulting in better holistic learning.
2. Early appreciation of different cultures.
When learning a new language, they naturally discover and immerse themselves in the culture. Other than the language skills, they will be exposed to a different culture, learn about cultural sensitivity, cross cultural communication and other multicultural values at an early age. Bilingual kids are now called “Third Culture Kids” or “Cross Cultural Kids”, having been raised in two cultures: the native culture from their parents and the culture that they have learned to adapt to as they grow up.
3. Better social skills and higher confidence.
Learning a language enhances social skills because it involves interaction and dialogues between two or more people. As the kids practice with fellow learners, their self-confidence level gets bolstered through interactive activities. It is also important that parents engage with them for extra support and encouragement.
Bilingual kids, who can switch from one language to another, are more adaptable to changing environments. When a monolingual child hears the word ‘chair’, he or she only thinks of the word “chair”. A bilingual child will think of two different words in two different languages: “chair” and “silla” (“chair” in Spanish) and choose which word to respond, showcasing their ability to adapt quickly. Moreover, they are more open to change and even more interested in learning new words to add to their vocabulary.
5. Developing a desire to travel.
Teaching your kids a new language encourages them to travel to countries where the language is spoken. Since they are familiar with the common words and phrases, they look forward to trying out their skills when they communicate with locals. They don’t need to be fluent, but it’s always nice that they keep a few words up their sleeve. Plus, the experience becomes more enjoyable and fun. Their desire to travel also supports their cultural appreciation. As they encounter people while traveling, they get accustomed to different cultures, as well.
6. More opportunities to learn other languages.
Learning can be habit-forming, especially for kids who are always curious to try new things. Learning one language can lead to learning more. For example, French is a good base for Spanish and Italian. This creates more opportunities for your kids to become multilingual, an asset for their academic and future professional life.