Perhaps you speak a language other than English at home. Perhaps you live in a bilingual country and feel your child would benefit from learning both official languages. Perhaps you have always been into other languages and want your kids to have that same love. Whatever the reason, experts agree that a child who learns a different language early in life will see benefits that will last a lifetime.
Second languages are easier to learn while children are young. In fact, it becomes much harder to learn a new language once a child hits adolescence. Early then is key and today many preschools and kindergartens will offer this education to their students.
Kids who are bilingual have more grey matter in their brains, they do better on standardized tests and also score higher on performance tasks that require focus, multi tasking and/or creative problem solving. Learning a whole other language, it seems, opens the door to higher learning and processing skills and that will in turn open doors for the student once he or she becomes older.
Furthermore, kids who are bilingual start to read earlier and better understand grammar than those who are not. Using more of the brain at an early age certainly does give your child an upper hand once he or she enters school, but did you know that a second language can also help to offset the onset of dementia later in life by up to 4.5 years? More study has to be done to understand exactly why this is true, but it goes to show that the more brain power you use, the stronger your brain will become. It’s the old adage ‘use it or lose it’ in all its glory.
Later in life, being bilingual will open doors to better employment for your little one. If you live in a country with two or more official languages, job opportunities in government jobs will more likely go to those who are fluent in both languages rather than one who is not. It also helps when traveling to know the local language and of course, if parents and family speak Italian, for example, learning it will be easier and also let your child speak freely with his or her family.
If you are wondering which other language is the best to learn, the experts say Mandarin as it is spoken by more people than any other.