More and more people of all ages are travelling abroad, whether that is for leisure, education or business. As the workplace becomes internationalised, ourselves and our children will benefit and prosper from learning an additional language and embracing different cultures. The importance of gaining this life skill has become increasingly important in recent years; find out why in our latest feature.
Improved Brain Function
Various studies and research suggest that learning a second language promotes cognitive functions amongst children. The benefits include improved memory, enhanced multi-tasking abilities, impulse control, problem-solving, critical thinking skills and creativity amongst many others. An overview of the recent study conducted by Takao Hensch at Harvard University can be found here, and it details various results and findings of the extensive research.
Less Likely to Have an Accent
Individuals are much less likely to speak a second language with an accent if they have learnt it at a younger age. This is because an immature brain is more receptive which allows them to adopt new sounds and pronunciation more easily. Those who learn a language while they are still young will accept and retain new patterns of speech and sounds that they hear, mimicking the language being taught, rather than adding the twang of their mother-tongue.
This is providing the language is not taught with an accent and is also dependant on the child’s self-awareness and confidence. Here at St Peter’s French is taught by two native French speakers who are currently in France with our Year 7 children on a week’s residential trip in Normandy. As a child develops inhibitions, they are less likely to embrace the correct pronunciation, which may result in their own accent being present while they speak the second language.
Young Children Learn with Ease
As the saying goes, ‘children’s minds are like sponges’ and this is no different when it comes to learning a language. As we age, our minds become less flexible and this rigidity of thinking can often result in difficulty in learning something new, like a language. A younger brain is continually developing and remains open to creativity and adaption in their thinking which in turn, allows them to absorb and retain a second language with more ease.
This can also be applied to grammar, spelling and sentence structures. As adults, an understanding of a language’s rules regarding grammar and sentence structure can often obstruct the ability to adopt the rules of the second language that they are learning. A child’s naivety to, or inexperience with, the rules of their mother-tongue allows them to embrace and adhere to the rules of the second language.
Appreciation of Other Cultures
When a child is introduced to a language at a young age, their understanding of the world and the cultures within it is enhanced. For many children, it can be difficult to comprehend an environment greater than what is within their individual life. It can be equally challenging for them to grasp that within these unfamiliar environments there are differences in lifestyles, for example, the language that is spoken, climate and development of the country, amongst other factors. Learning another language from a young age increases the ability to appreciate and apprehend another culture. They will have a better representation of the world and the diversity within it.
Advantage in the Workplace
Adults that are bi/multilingual are typically in higher demand in the job market. For this reason, the opportunities available to them are increased. There is a broad and diverse selection of industries that require their employees to be bilingual or multilingual and the requirement for people with these skills is always increasing. A candidate who can speak one, two or more foreign languages presents an attractive proposition to a variety of industries, whether that is in tourism, law, education, healthcare or communication, amongst many others. The competitive advantage of the ability to effectively communicate in another language, interpret and translate on behalf of the company you are representing contributes to an invaluable employee, one with greater job security and in all likelihood, a higher wage.
Do you support and encourage your child to be passionate about learning another language? Here at St Peter’s independent preschool, Devon, we aim to inspire children to speak another language and provide a structured learning environment that assists them with doing so.