“How are you Gia?” – asked the school principal.
“Main fine hoon, shukran!” – replied the 7-year-old who came for her new enrollment in the school.
Everyone stood stunned after hearing the reply except her parents, who later told the reason for their daughter’s language mash-up. Born and brought up in Dubai, Gia grasped multiple languages while growing up. Her father speaks to her in Hindi and her mother converses with her in English, while she learned certain words in Arabic from her nanny and neighbors. This is a perfect example of how kids at a young age can absorb multiple languages in a faster and easier way.
When the parents are from different places, kids are exposed to different languages and get used to speaking the most comfortable words. They might sometimes mix up two or three languages like Gia did. No matter how old you are, learning a new language is always valuable. However, learning a new language at an early age is much easier and beneficial, as the language center of the brain is still developing. Kids have more time to learn, less to learn, fewer inhibitions, and a brain ready for new information all the time.
Here are some points that show the benefits of learning multiple languages at a young age:
- Better Communication –
Learning multiple languages helps a child communicate better while improving his vocabulary in the native language. It also improves his grammar and listening skills allowing him to interact with a greater number of people. While English is now the lingua franca of the world, learning more than two languages increases opportunities for connections and opens the door to many educational, professional, and social opportunities.
- Good for Brain –
According to researchers, learning a second language helps a child’s brain to develop faster, improving memory, concentration, and the ability to multitask. Kids proficient in multiple languages also show signs of enhanced creativity and mental flexibility. Working hard to learn a new language strengthens their ability to focus, memorize, and comprehend complex concepts.
- Academic Success –
Studies show that children learning multiple languages gain superior cognitive abilities and analytical skills. Switching between languages helps them develop a more flexible approach to problem-solving. The ability to read and think in two (or more) different languages promotes higher levels of creativity, which is important in learning.
- Boosts Confidence and Tolerance –
If a child can learn one new language fluently, he gains the confidence of learning two or three more. Multilingual children develop more confidence and tolerance towards situations and changes in various circumstances.
- Fosters Cultural Appreciation –
Language and culture are intertwined. Learning multiple languages can help your child understand and appreciate different cultures as well as it can provide deep insights into how other people see the world. It also teaches them to be open-minded and empathetic in all aspects of their life.
- Better Opportunities –
The demand for bilingual and multilingual professionals is growing exponentially around the world and employers prefer the ones who can connect with clients globally adding value to their workforce. Speaking one or more languages will help broaden your child’s career opportunities keeping them ahead of the competition.
Apart from the above, there exist other benefits as well like it increases your child’s reading power, makes travel more fun, enhances out of the box thinking and improves decision-making abilities.
Bilingual or not, parents can always encourage their children to learn new languages as their support will make a tremendous difference to the child’s success. There are also several things that parents can do at home to promote second language acquisition in their child. Here are a few suggestions:
- Create a positive learning environment for your child. The best way for him to learn a new language is to hear it being spoken regularly. Expose him to television shows, books, music, restaurants, and other things that expand his interests on the second language.
- Children learn faster through competition and active engagement. Do activities together and play games that involve multiple languages. Learn that language together with your child. Have interesting conversations over a meal.
- Pairing demonstrations with vocabulary words helps children understand a language better. Use expressive gestures, facial expressions, or other physical means to help them comprehend and remember new words and sentences.
- Make it fun instead of forcing it upon them. Read books, play music, or travel to another country to explore new food and culture. Engagement and positive experiences are the best ways to keep them interested and inclined to learning.