One of the best things that parents can do for their children is encouraging them to learn a 2nd language. Recent studies indicate that children’s brains are far more adaptable to learning a language beyond their native tongue and that as they get older it becomes increasingly difficult.
Teaching Them Young
Research indicates that the ideal time to teach children another language is when they are young. Babies and toddlers are busily learning the concepts and nuances of their own native tongue and at this stage, it’s ok to let them. As children get older the plasticity of their brains remains and the ability to acquire a new language is still there. At the age of ten, it seems children can most effectively pursue and master another language. After that age, their ability to grasp a language will become increasingly more difficult.
Begin with the “Right” Language
When it comes to language learning for kids, it’s important not to stress them out with a language that is naturally difficult to learn. Depending on where someone lives will naturally influence the language and more importantly the sounds of that language. The phonetic sounds of a language influence the ability to speak another language clearly. For instance, languages in Africa often have multiple sounds and even clicks that would make it difficult for someone from say Germany to adapt to. It’s not impossible, it just becomes more difficult learning a language that uses a completely different set of sounds, so try matching a foreign language that is similar in sounds.
Start with the End in Mind
When children take on the task of learning a foreign language, it’s good to have a game plan. Is the pursuit purely academic, or is there an underlying purpose like preparing them for a family business? It’s important to have a reason behind the learning because children are always asking why. Also, in general, people work well towards a goal, even when it’s not what they want to be doing at any particular time.
Daily Practice Regimen
It almost goes without saying that in order to learn and grasp a new language, practice is imperative. According to EFL Learning Centre, an English language school in Chiang Mai, setting up daily practice sessions either on the computer or using a workbook is necessary for children to learn a language. There are even apps on the phone that can help or reinforce what was already learned using other methods. Another important aspect of daily learning is to set up a time that is adhered to each day. This sort of regimentation sets expectations and also gives children boundaries of when it’s time to learn and when it’s time to relax.
Motivation is Key
Find something to motivate children’s learning. Focusing on history, cooking, geography or other topics of the country where the language is spoken can help pique the child’s interest in learning.
Learning a foreign language takes time and practice and luckily is one of the hobbies you can share with your kids. Learning a language together can be a great bonding time and a wonderful way to introduce kids to the world out there.
About the Author
Patrick Watt is a content writer, writing in several areas, primarily in business growth, value creation, M&A, and finance. His other interests include content marketing and self-development. Say hi to Patrick on Twitter @patrickwattpat.