preschoolers-learn-a-second-languageAn in-depth infographic by Early Childhood Education Zone cites multiple sources that say preschoolers should learn a second language, and lists numerous benefits of doing so. Benefits include (but are not limited to):

  • Higher IQ
  • Improved language skills
  • Improved memory
  • Improved math skills
  • Improved musical skills
  • Improved verbal/spatial ability
  • More flexible viewpoints
  • Increased perception
  • Improved multi-tasking

You can view the entire infographic that lists even more advantages. Meanwhile, shares research that suggests merely thinking in a second language helps people to “make quicker and better life decisions.” Looking to the future, students with high SAT scores tend to have studied foreign language—and looking WAY ahead in the future, a second language may help to prevent dementia.

But, Isn’t My Preschooler Too Young?

Although experts previously believed that teaching preschoolers a second language was not practical, more recent studies show that it’s actually the BEST time for someone to learn one. Children learn by “play and exploration” while adults “often try to learn languages in a contrived way”—and children’s methods are more effective. Plus, during the first three years of life, foundations for language are being laid down. So it’s an ideal time to harness this natural learning curve to expand your child’s opportunities to learn a second language.

Having Fun is Key

When your child has fun, he or she forms an emotional attachment to the process—and “emotion is the door to learning.” Avoid putting pressure on your child; a 1984 study found that 80 percent of learning problems involve stress. Here are more tips:

  • Play music that has lyrics in the language being introduced. Words combined with music make learning easier.
  • Incorporate movement through dance and hand movements.
  • Teach by tasting. Prepare a food for your child and, as you are enjoying it together, share the name of the food in the new language.

Which Language is Best?

For some families, the decision is easy: Their family or a relative speaks it so there is an immediate real-life application and purpose. If that isn’t the case, and you aren’t bilingual yourself, experts list six languages that are beneficial.

  • Spanish: It is the second most common language spoken in the United States with 34 million speakers. Because it has similarities to French, Italian and Portuguese, it will help your child learn those languages, too, if that is of interest.
  • French: More than 1 million Americans speak French, and it an excellent choice for someone who is interested in the arts.
  • Mandarin Chinese: Song-like in nature (which appeals to children), it is China's main dialect. China is the world's fastest growing economy, so this can be a useful skill for your child to pick up.
  • Italian: Increasing numbers of parents are choosing this language to learn and teach. It's the closest language to Latin, and about 60 percent of English is Latin-based.
  • German: Because English is also a Germanic language, it can be easiest for some children to learn German, and more than 5 million people in the United States speak that language.
  • American Sign Language: People with special needs, such as those with Down's syndrome, often use ASL, as do many people who are deaf. This can therefore be a useful skill.

Looking for more ways to enrich your child’s learning and life? Horizon Education Center provides affordable quality care, including educational and enrichment opportunities for children in the following Northeast Ohio locations.