The simple answer to this is yes! You should definitely teach your child a second language!
But I understand that as a parent you’re juggling lots of activities. Do you want to send your children to swimming class? Do they learn a musical instrument? Should they try theatre? Do they need to do sports, if so should they do team sports of solo sports? How much time should they spend with their friends? How much time alone? How much time with family?!
And when you’re trying to fit all of these activities in, and give your child a healthy happy life, you do need to prioritise and decide what you think is important for them to do and learn because you can’t fit everything in and that’s ok. But if you are considering teaching your child a second language, and you think it’s an important skill that they should have then we couldn’t agree more.
We’re going to look at:
- Why they should learn a second language?
- Whether you should be teaching them or should they go to a class?
- And how you can teach them
We hope you find this article useful.
Why should they learn a second language?
It is useful to teach your children a second language because it opens up so many doors for them, it will give them opportunities later in life and it will make learning more languages easies to learn in the future. Here are our detailed list of why you should teach your child a second language.
- When children are young, they are language learning machines. They have no fear of making mistakes that adults often have because that’s how they learn. So they are primed and ready to accept whatever you teach them. You’re not going to get the same resistance you would get from a teenager or an adult.
- If you learn one language it’s easier to learn more. So if you teach them a language when they’re a child, they have a better chance of learning more languages when they get older.
- Having two languages decreases your chances of getting Dementia when you’re older. This is because for every word or sentence that you think of, two different nodes are activated in the brain for each language. Meaning that your brain is more active than if you only spoke one.
- Probably the biggest reason that parents consider teaching their child a second language: it will increase their competitive edge in the job market. Foreign languages are a skill that employees are always looking for and not many English speaking people have. You will open up a world of opportunity for them.
- It gives them the chance to study in a non English speaking country. To study in universities that have different languages to English, you need to show a B2 proficiency (upper intermediate). If you teach them a foreign language you give them the chance to do this.
- Studies have indicated that learning a second language also improves your memory abilities and can improve levels of intelligence.
Do you need any more reasons?
And if you have any more reasons why you think children should learn a second language then tell us in the comments below and we can add them to the list.
Should I be teaching them or should they go to class?
Learning from you in the home
This is really up to you. If you are able to speak a second language or if you’re completely bilingual then there’s no reason why you can’t teach them at home. Or even if you’re learning yourself and you want to teach your child what you’re learning then that’s great too. But make sure the learning is fun for the child. You don’t want to sit them down and drill vocabulary with them because that’s not fun for anyone and it’s probably going to put your children off learning a language.
Here are some things that you can do:
- Buy colourful language story books with nice pictures and read to or with your child
- Sing songs in different languages with your children that have fun actions for them to do
- If you speak the language then have some days where you only speak to them in that language and other days where you only speak to them in English
- Create a happy safe learning environment, where they can have fun and it’s ok for them to make mistakes
If they make a mistake then remember that’s ok! It’s always fine to make a mistake! Smile and repeat the correct thing back to them. So for example, if the child says:
‘Es en la mesa.’ You smile and say: ‘Si! Está en la mesa.’
This way, you’re correcting the mistake they’ve made, but it’s not a big deal and they’re still in a happy safe learning environment.
Important! Be careful when you are teaching them. Because although any language is better than no language, if you’re not confident in the language you’re speaking and you make a lot of mistakes, you will be passing these onto your child.
Learning in a class or group
If you don’t know a second language, or if you don’t think you can teach well, or even if you just want your child to socialise while they learn then they are lots of groups and classes that you child can go to.
Obviously if your child is young, you don’t want to send them to a formal setting where the children are all sitting at desks using textbooks. It’s not fun, your child isn’t going to like it, and they probably won’t learn very well. Learning a foreign language needs to be interactive.
Look for class that sing songs, play games and where the children look like they’re having a nice time. It’s also important to look for classes that have small class sizes. The smaller the class size, the more chance your child is going to have to speak the language. You don’t want to be signing them up to classes with 30 other students.
In the UK some great options are:
These are our favourites because they’e fun and interactive for the children, but these options concentrate mainly on French and Spanish. So if you want your child to learn a different language you may want to look for other classes or even consider
If you are thinking about teaching your child a second language we hope we’re managed to convince you that that’s a very good idea.
Do you have a child that you’re thinking about teaching a second language to? Or do you have a child that you’re currently in the process of teaching a second language to? Please let us know all about it in the comments below.
And remember the two most important things: learning should be fun and it’s ok to make mistakes!