Benefits of Learning a Second Language from an early age
"As a typical three-year-old, I loved watching morning cartoons whenever I got a chance. My mother would always worry that I was watching too much TV until I started formulating complete sentences in Russian. No one in my family spoke Russian by that time."
Children have this amazing ability that many adults envy - they can absorb information quickly, more thoroughly, and it sticks to them as a habit.
The fact that a three-year-old could learn a foreign language (never spoken in the family) from a mere cartoon watching session is enough for me to talk endlessly about learning a second language from an early age.
Benefits of learning a second language at an early age
When we imagine a bilingual child, all we can think of is how cute it would be if our little toddler could occasionally scream out some French words, talk to a foreign visitor, etc.
But there are more benefits to learning a second language in the early development years; Benefits which will show themselves in early teenagerhood and adulthood.
Learning a second language gives your baby's brain a boost
We've all heard that physical workouts exercise our bodies, and reading/writing exercises our minds. And researches have shown that learning a second language at an early age is a great way to flex those brain muscles.
Studies have also shown that people who speak more than one language have a larger density of grey matter - an area in our brains responsible for processing information, memory, speech, etc.
And the people who have been studying a second language from early childhood have the most grey matter of all.
By helping your children learn a second language, you'll also be boosting their brain activity and sensory perception.
A second language is a gateway to colleges and career development
It's no secret that colleges/universities and companies seek people who speak more than one language. Studies also show that bilingual employees are often paid significantly more than employees who speak only one language.
We know it's a little early to think about the career your toddler will have, but it's never too early to prepare them for the real world.
Companies need employees who can communicate across borders. And let's not forget about the development of freelancing across countries. Many people leave standard office workspaces and start freelancing. Bilingual people have no trouble communicating with others, finding new projects across the globe, and more.
Learning a second language will give your child the opportunity to connect with different cultures
A second language changes the view we have of the world. By traveling, reading foreign literature, watching foreign movies, and such, we broaden our understanding of what's going on outside of our little boxes.
We have universal translators, phrasebooks for newbie travelers, and such, but they won't give you an understanding of a foreign culture and their references.
Earlier is easier, and if you start teaching your toddler a second language, you'll notice that they won't have issues with talking to native speakers.
Flexing your toddlers' brain muscles with a second language can prevent future age-related issues
The connection between bilingualism and the delay of age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer's has been spotted already. And today we have studies that hypothesize the delay of the illness by 4.5 years.
Researches show that due to the constant workout of the brain (which happens during learning and speaking a new language) our brain structure changes. This has been linked to the resilience against Alzheimer's and Dementia.
Have you met people who constantly switch between languages? It might seem a little bit annoying at first, but the studies show that such behavior helps form pathways that maintain thinking skills even after the disease has already struck a person.
Learning a second language may help your child become more empathetic
And last but not least, learning and understanding a second language will create an empathetic adult with great social understanding.
Studies from Concordia University have shown that bilingual children better understand others' perspectives and desires.
This conclusion is associated with a more robust language system that bilingual children have. Such strength can help them detect emotions, features, and even body language signs better.
Why your children should start learning a second language from early ages
We have a few more reasons why bilingualism from the early stages of childhood development is important:
- Learning a second language can improve problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking.
- Children learn faster and are ready to absorb newfound information. Learning a second language in primary school will help them speak without an accent, like a native speaker.
- Babies spend their first moments on earth learning and absorbing information. They have more time to learn new languages, and it's effortless if you include the second language in their daily activities.
We can't possibly talk about every benefit of learning a second language, but we think this article is enough to give you a nudge in the right direction.
Make it a family activity; include learning a new language in fun games, take help from mobile and video games, watch foreign cartoons and movies, and learn a new language together.