Benefits of a second language for children

A number of friends with children and parents I have worked with have asked me about language teaching, the positives and negatives and the impact this has on their child. So with my teacher hat on, here goes… 

What are the benefits of my child learning a second language?

So many! Here are a few that really stand out:

When should my child start learning another language?

The earlier, the better. We all know that children are like sponges and absorb the world around them. Language is no different, in fact there is plenty of evidence to suggest that learning another language from birth is the best possible way. It’s all down to the science of how knowledge is stored and accessed in the brain in children in their early years. When something is natural to them, they just learn it, with minimal effort. Some studies have shown that children’s ability to learn a second language reaches it’s peak by about 6-7 years of age, others believe that this can still extend through puberty. However, most findings show that after puberty, it becomes much harder for children to learn a second language, which explains why many children struggle to connect with a second language during secondary education.

How can I encourage my child if I don’t speak another language?

By giving them the tools to learn and being persistent. As with any skill, routine and repetition are key particularly with language. Building this into day to day life might seem like an impossibility if you don’t speak another language, so let someone else do the work for you:

Will it impact their academic development?

Yes, in a very positive way! As we already know, there are so many benefits to learning a second language. But one of the huge benefits academically is the deeper understanding you gain about your own language. Grammar, reading, writing and communicating all improve, not to mention your vocabulary.

We make links between the vocabulary we already store in our native tongue and understand more about the structures and meanings of words which allow us to use them more accurately. Take the word ‘guilty’ in English, the Spanish word for guilty is ‘culpable’, a synonym for guilty in English, already your vocabulary broadens. It’s fascinating for us language nerds out there!

If you have any other questions, need help in finding specific resources or would like more information please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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