No matter what your plans for the future are, speaking more than one language is always an incredibly useful skill to have. This is especially true for children.
As they grow into adolescence, practicing new language skills provides them with a platform to understand the world from a totally new perspective, encouraging them to embrace new customs and cultural nuances. There’s further added benefit, as languages nurture their sense of empathy and understanding towards others at a crucial time in their growth, while also opening up new pathways to professional success in a globalized workplace.
Here are six reasons why you should put your child on the path to bilingualism.
1. Exposure to languages improves empathy
When children learn a new language, they are introduced to customs and values belonging to a different society. This encourages them to think from a new point of view, improving cultural sensitivity. At a crucial time in their development, exposing children to new ways of seeing the world and appreciating where others come from can be character-defining.
Source: The Economist
2. Bilingualism has health benefits
Speaking multiple languages can slow down the onset of dementia. Using different receptors, the brain has to find completely new ways to process information, and this helps to protect its functionality. Think about an old car; one that has been lying in a garage for years. The engine will be much harder to start again after years of inactivity when compared with the same model driven carefully and regularly. Academics call this “cognitive reserve.”
Source: American Academy of Neurology
3. Children have a learning advantage
There’s no proof that children learn languages better than adults, but they are less inhibited – usually because they’re in more comfortable settings and have more time, like during Easter and summer holidays.
Source: The Telegraph, Medical Daily
4. Multilingualism may be linked to higher income
Several studies have shown that there is a correlation between multilingualism and earning potential. The pool of accessible jobs is wider, because there are opportunities to find positions in other countries, and employers value this skill set because it correlates with strong communication skills and an international mindset.
Source: The Economist, Time
5. Learning languages expands their world view
Each language has its own style, idioms, cultural references and heritage. Children who are exposed to these features; the ideas they represent, the new vocabulary and the grammatical variation, are equipping themselves with the tools to understand the world in completely new ways.
Source: The Guardian
6. Most people speak more than one language
Get with the program! Ok, we can’t be sure, but according to the general consensus, most people on the planet are multilingual. Some of the reasons for this include a history of colonialism and the modern era of globalization.
Source: Psychology Today, The European Commission