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Learning another language is good

learning language

Start Them Young: Why Learning Another Language Is Good for Your Child

It can be hard to know when your child should be introduced to a new language. Some people wait for classes offered in elementary, middle or high school. Increasingly, however, we see the benefits of starting learning young.

You don’t need to wait until your child has a class in school to teach them another language. While you can wait for the school programs to incorporate language, there are numerous benefits to teaching your child at home from an early age.

With greater connections between cultures, learning languages from an early age is a benefit. Jovi Olson, Chief of Communications & Institutional Equity at Silicon Valley International School explains, “In an increasingly interconnected world, having cultural agility is vital. A bilingual education also provides children with the ability to think critically from multiple perspectives. Learning another language and culture provides that.”

While we may be able to recognize the benefits, it can be hard to decide if you want to incorporate them into your child’s learning, especially if you do not know other languages yourself. Let’s look at some common questions regarding learning another language for kids.

Can I Just Wait for Them to Learn in School?

It is wonderful to see schools embracing language education, especially in the preschool and elementary years. Research shows that children who learn a language before their teen years are more likely to achieve native pronunciation, especially if they are taught by native speakers. It is also believed that it is easier for children to learn a language at a young age. This confirms the benefits of offering language learning as early as possible.

How Old Should My Child Be to start?

According to Daniela Ruelas, M.A. and Silvia Piedrasanta of KSS Immersion Schools, “The best age to start learning a second language is as soon as a child is born. Children’s brains are developing so much during the first three years of life. The more neural connections they can make during these early years, the better. The more exposure children have at an early age, the more vocabulary they will have later on, and the better their skills will be.”

You can begin introducing multiple languages to your child from the time they are born. Even if you are not a bilingual household, you can incorporate resources, toys, and people that expose your child to other languages. As they develop, learning to talk and read, they can learn multiple languages simultaneously.

If you haven’t started at birth, that’s okay. “Studies have shown that young children’s brains are particularly receptive to language learning. Exposure at an early age can help wire the brain for language acquisition and lead to better long-term language proficiency,” shares Que Yi, Co-Head of School at Shu Ren International School/An IB World School. There is no wrong age to learn another language. You can start today and your child will reap the benefits.

What Is the Best Way to Learn?

The best way to learn is through an in-person bilingual program taught by native speakers. This will maximize learning in an authentic way for your child. If an in-person program is not an option, consider tutors, computer programs, and online lessons that are as interactive as possible. It is best if these are led by native speakers to ensure your child learns proper pronunciation.

Do I Need to be Bilingual?

Parents often dismiss language education if they don’t know it. It is not, however, a requirement for parents to know the language their child is learning. It can be helpful, but it is not necessary. You can also use the opportunity to learn the language alongside your child and incorporate the learning into your family life.

Remember, It Is a Process

As you explore learning for your child, embrace the process. Whether you start small with a book or game, you commit to more with a weekly program, or you begin an immersive in-person program, your child will benefit from learning another language.

Consider your options and look for a program or strategies that work for your family. The most important thing is to start.

“Knowing another language builds empathy and understanding for another person, their culture, and their values,” Deron Marvin, Co-Head of School at Shu Ren International School/ An IB World School shares. “There are two things kids should learn in their formative years: an additional language, and a musical instrument.

Start early!”

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