Happy New Year!!! This blog post is all about languages. How many of you always say you're going to learn a new language as a new year's resolution but never do? Well this is your chance to do it and include your child! Read below!
Deciding which language is best for your child to learn can be a complicated decision. Researchers believe that learning a second language comes with benefits, especially for young learners. Some researchers claim that new neuro-pathways are developed in the brain in order to learn the new language, and various studies have shown that individuals who speak more than one language are less likely to develop neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. In addition to the added mental health benefit, a second language will allow your child to be more competitive for better jobs down the line.
Here are two important things to keep in mind!
- Mandarin and Spanish are Hot: By focusing on creating a love of learning and great learning environments, a child will best be served. That said, it's hard to go wrong with Mandarin or Spanish! Both languages have many speakers in the U.S. and across the globe. It is estimated that there are currently 34 million Spanish speakers in the U.S. Furthermore, since Spanish is a phonetic language with many similarities to English, it can be easier for children to learn. And perhaps more important, there is an abundance of learning materials for both the Mandarin Chinese and Spanish languages.
- Don’t Force the Issue: It's important to note that forcing a child who is not interested in learning a second language may backfire. If a child generally likes school and is learning at a good pace, then forcing that child to learn a language may be a little risky. Your number one goal where education is concerned should be to encourage a love of learning. However, sometimes forcing a child to learn a second language can interfere with that. So before pushing a second language, ensure that the child in question is onboard. Involve your child in the language selection process; children respond best when they feel that they are an active participant in their own lives.
Ultimately, the best language for a child to learn is one that he or she has a natural interest in learning. You may feel that having your child learn a new language is the best for his or her future career, but fostering a love of learning should always be the number one priority. A child that loves learning will achieve far more in school and life than a child whose love of learning was crushed, but speaks a “little French.”