If you have not noticed already, kids are pretty sharp these days. Just like a sponge that is always ready to soak up whatever it is dipped in, so are kids. Constantly ready to absorb and assimilate any new information that comes their way. Especially if it is packaged in an attractive and engaging avatar.
We are not the only ones saying this though. Science actually backs it up. As per a recent study, kids are so smart that they are actually capable of learning more new things than adults can in the same amount of time.
This rapid action learning advantage that kids have is precisely why they should be taught second languages at an earlier age. In this post, we will discuss at length the benefits of early language acquisition, including what a second language is, its importance and more.
What is a second language?
A second language is basically any language that is learnt in addition to the primary language taught in a school. Generally, urban schools in India use English as the primary language in which all subjects are taught. While the state’s regional language counts as the second language.
Second language classes begin during junior school for most kids. It can be argued that learning a second language at a young age might be more difficult. Especially for kids who already have a lot to study and may not be able to comprehend the complex sounds, grammar, spelling and pronunciation of a new language.
However, according to an MIT study, kids are actually better equipped to pick up a new language and achieve native proficiency at it if they start before the age of ten. And there are many benefits to doing that.
Benefits of learning a second language during early childhood
- Improves the skills of problem-solving in kids
- Makes kids better students
- Helps kids connect to their roots
- Makes kids more empathetic
- Makes kids more culturally curious
- Helps kids communicate better
- Prolongs life
Early age second language acquisition in kids can improve their working memory and promote flexible thinking. At least, that is what research says. What this translates to is kids who are capable of planning better and achieving their goals as they develop they focus to do so.
They are also known to be better at multitasking. In fact, a couple of studies show that bilingual kids also get a creativity boost. For example, if bilingual kids are given a complex problem to solve, they might be better equipped to find a solution, which is a life-saving skill to have.
The importance of learning a second language can be estimated in the effect it can have on test scores. Certain studies show that bilingual kids have an edge when it comes to mathematical problems as well as standardised test scores. They perform better on both fronts.
This success can be attributed to the improved critical analysis skills that bilingualism can help develop. Bilingual kids have greater focus and attention spans, which makes them want to get to the bottom of every problem and sort it out for themselves.
Living as we do in the modern age, we are losing touch with our roots and our community. Due to increased globalisation, westernisation and the prevalence of English as a mode of all types of communication in Indian urban societies – from schooling to corporate communications, we do not speak our native languages as much as we used to anymore.
However, by implementing second language acquisition at an earlier age, kids get the chance to connect to their culture and their roots. Their natural curiosity is further fueled by this new language, thus making them want to know more about the community they belong to and the rich culture and customs it brings.
Here is a surprise benefit of learning a second language! When kids try to learn a new language, mistakes abound. It is impossible to learn it perfectly from the get-go with zero process. This process of making mistakes and learning from them not only inculcates patience in children but also helps them become more empathetic.
Because they have struggled in acquiring this skill, they are able to understand and sympathise with other kids who are in a similar situation. This quality of empathy can help your kids become more emotionally mature and a better friend!
As we mentioned before, learning a second language can improve a child’s understanding of their own community. Well, it can also make them more culturally curious. By diving deep into the way a language works, reading its texts or watching it shows, kids can gain knowledge about different dialects and the way the same language can be used differently by people from various regions. This, in turn, can help refine their understanding of people from different cultures while expanding their overall worldview.
The importance of a second language cannot be denied when it comes to communicating more effectively. By picking up a new language, children can easily connect with, understand and form deeper relationships with native speakers of the said language. This can be great for the emotional development of a child. It can also be a practical and valuable skill to have as it can ease communication with the local people of the community the language belongs to.
This might sound outlandish but as per a recent study, bilingual people have been proven to have a greater cognitive reserve. The core advantage of this is that it can help delay the onset of problems such as dementia, thus improving the quality of life at a later age as well as lifespan. Bilingual patients were also observed to quicker recoveries from incidences of stroke.
Bilingualism is an extremely beneficial trait for your kids to have. And as you can see, the sooner you start, the better it is! Though schools generally offer the state language as an option for second language, you can also make your kids learn any language on the side to reap its rewards. At EuroKids, we have comprehensive second language classes in place for kids, which are taught by qualified teachers. To know more about our curriculum, drop by your nearest EuroKids centre.