A great school with great teachers and engaged peers is one of the most important things in a young person’s life. But when it comes to languages, even a great school usually isn’t enough. Here’s why studying a language abroad will fuel your child’s development in a way a local school environment simply can’t.
Stronger language skills
There are huge benefits to learning a language in an immersive environment, ideally in a country where the language is spoken natively. Using the language in a range of everyday situations, including with new friends, is just the kind of challenge most young people need. When your child is forced to use the language in “natural” situations, as well as in a class with young people from all over the world (as opposed to in a normal class back home), there is simply no space for being reluctant or shy. Immersive language learning works because it puts the language in context, encouraging constant usage and fostering faster progress.
And why is investing in language skills so important? Not only are there huge benefits to speaking more than one language fluently, like heightened empathy, cognitive abilities and delayed dementia, but it also allows young people to develop skills essential to success in the future.
Increased independence and confidence
Time away from home – sometimes in a faraway destination – means that your child will be challenged to think for themselves in more ways than one: washing their own clothes, deciding when they should visit a doctor, buying a pre-paid SIM card, cooking, meeting new people, and organizing their schedule. Throw in the challenge of doing all of this in a foreign language (whatever language they have chosen to study), and you have a recipe for an experience that will make them more independent and turbocharge the development of essential skills like adaptability and problem-solving.
Better study skills
A new campus, timetable, curricular expectations, and teaching style. All of this means your son or daughter will be expected to organize their time according to an efficient and effective study schedule. For young people aiming to continue their education past high school, having top-notch study skills (without a parent or teacher constantly keeping them on track) is an invaluable skill set. Happily, once developed, a healthy respect for study and the ability to organize their own time are skills that will stay.
The opportunity to find their tribe
At their normal school, your child already has their friendship group defined. However, an immersive overseas learning experience will introduce your child to a group of people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, united by a common interest. Many of them will go on to become friends for life. Remember, their fellow study abroad students are also “all in the same boat”, meaning they’ll form a tight-knit group and be an invaluable source of friendship and support for each other during the challenges that may occur.
Openness to other cultures
Chances are if your child has spent most of their life in one country or city, they are well-versed in how their peers think and act. By taking them out of their comfort zone and inviting them to live in another, they’ll experience something extremely profound: the ability to understand how to interact with people who are not representative of their regular circle of family and friends. By interacting with people from a culture unlike their own, their young, elastic minds open up to new traditions and ways of thinking. In today’s world, as digital and physical borders and boundaries between cultures shift, we need to foster as much openness in our young people as possible.
A surge in self-confidence
Mom, Dad: just you wait until your pick up your child from the airport. Alongside a backpack full of souvenirs and a mind full of memories, they’ll return from their language course with one of the biggest prizes out there: a healthy dose of self-confidence and self-esteem. After all, they just navigated an entirely new situation in a country that is not their own. They met a whole suite of new people, faced unexpected challenges, organized their time, studied diligently, immersed themselves in a new language – and did so all by themselves. These opportunities for growth simply don’t happen during a “regular” school year – it takes an immersive experience to make this magic happen.