3 BIG Reasons Kids Need to Learn a Foreign Language
Why do researchers think this happens? Learning a foreign language requires kids to stretch new cognitive muscles—ones they haven’t used before. Our children learn their first language* without study or effort. It is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon—our brains are preprogrammed to learn our native tongue during our early years. As we learn our first language, our brain trims the areas that facilitate this—and they can’t grow back. After this early learning opportunity passes, learning another language requires study and effort. To do this, kids must develop learning strategies they haven’t used before—in particular, new reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Once they have these new skills, they automatically apply them to other subject areas—especially to math and science and similar subjects where completely new information or skills are introduced.
We already are globally connected. You probably have friends or work with people who live in other countries. That is only going to increase. The strategies your kids learn studying a foreign language will help them travel internationally or interact with others who do not speak English natively. Once they have strategies for learning a foreign language, subsequent languages are learned more quickly. My daughter, Kayte, studied French in high school and college. She added Arabic in college. Even though it was as far from French as you can imagine, she still says the strategies she acquired studying French applied. She became conversant enough to travel confidently throughout the Middle East by her junior year.
The best thing you can do to prepare your children for whatever the future may hold is to teach them to love learning. They most certainly will have to keep learning throughout their lifetime; it sure helps if they take joy in this reality. Learning a foreign language is a tough assignment, but it comes with great rewards. We gain access to people, food, art, music, history, and so much more. We can’t fully appreciate these things without understanding the language that binds them together.
When studying something difficult opens doors to fascinating experiences, kids learn that hard work is worth the effort. They approach the next learning challenge with expectations of pleasure and success. Voilà! You have self-motivated, self-perpetuating learners in the house (every parent’s dream).
Studying a foreign language is exactly the kind of learning opportunity that will propel your child forward in all directions. That’s why we offer French, Spanish, American Sign Language, and German classes at Aim Academy. We want to be a part of your homeschool success story, and we think studying a second language is a critical piece of that equation.
*If you raise your kids in a bilingual home, they will learn both languages without effort or study. In this article I’m referring to learning a new language after that early learning opportunity has passed.