This month’s guest post is by New Zealand writer, Harper Reid. Enjoy!
A child’s brain soaks up knowledge faster than any other age. Early childhood is the best time to foster new learning and teach a child a second, or even third, language. Young brains are in the perfect position to gain knowledge. Learning a second language while the brain is young is easier, and more beneficial than at any other time!
What’s the Best Time to Start?
The quick answer is as soon as possible. The earlier you can teach the child, the better. Brains of all ages will benefit from learning a second language, but preschool-age children make the best students. Children at this age are inquisitive and curious and will try out their newly acquired skills without fear. Children have also shown to be less fearful of mimicking sounds and adopting pronunciation.
Getting started is always the hardest part. It can help to show that learning isn’t a chore – it can be fun. Make it fun by using books, videos and learning apps to stimulate the child’s knowledge. Use small rewards and incentives to get them to their goals. Give them sweet treats or take a trip to the park, use your imagination. A child will be excited to learn a new language when it is taught in a fun way.
To land that perfect job, communication skills are an absolute must. One of the massive advantages of learning a secondary language at an early age is that the child now has the ability to communicate to a wider audience. If the child had never learned this language, the possibility of wider communication would never exist. The skills the child has learned may mean they find work overseas in industries that would have been inaccessible without the language.
If for no other reason, the child’s second language may also help them network in a personal capacity. Sure, it may help the child find work that they enjoy in the future, but it may also enable them to make friends. Imagine never having met a best friend because of a language barrier. Learning languages early sets a child up with networks that will remain for life.
There is no doubt that being able to communicate in one way engages different areas of the brain. Children who have learned languages from a young age have been shown to display cognitive advantages.
Cognitive advantages are illustrated through better abilities with problem-solving and creativity. As well as a better ability to think outside of the box. Enhancing this brain function well requires more than the learning of the language though. To encourage a complete learning experience, learning about culture is also useful. Learning is best done in person. If the means are available, traveling is a great way to achieve this.
Children need the ability to use their senses to learn. Touch, smell, taste, hear and see. The child will flourish when they see their ability to communicate work. In this new environment, being able to hold a conversation is an adrenaline rush that can foster confidence. If traveling is too expensive creating an at-home experience of different cultures is another great way to achieve this. This could include engaging in imaginative play to engage their language skills or exposure to foreign movies, music and cultural traditions.
Children Learn by Copying
From a young age, children love to imitate the people around them, from their parents to their teachers. This allows children to forge a better understanding of what they are learning. The more knowledgeable their teacher is, the more likely a child will retain the information they learn. This is particularly handy for teachers that are bilingually gifted.
Early childhood is the prime age to teach children a new language, fostering confidence and knowledge that they can carry with them throughout their lives. It will help them to find jobs within networks that aren’t open to most of us.
Harper Reid is a Kiwi wordsmith based in Auckland, New Zealand. She regularly produces content for blogs and local sites. Head over to her Tumblr page to see more of her published work.
If you are interested in becoming a guest blogger on the Kinney Brothers Publishing blog site, please contact us at admin@kinneybrothers. We are always looking for educational content our readers will find useful.