Why Learn a Foreign Language

Even though we are in the middle of summer, it won’t be long before many parents are planning their children’s upcoming activities for the new school year.  Among the typical extracurricular programs, such as math, sports, or music lessons,  it is important to also consider enrolling your child in a foreign language program.  Apart from learning a new skill, exposure to learning a foreign language has far-reaching benefits, including enhanced cognitive flexibility, improved listening skills, curiosity and awareness of the wider world, and improved ability to learn more languages in the future. 

Enhanced cognitive flexibility

The process of learning a new language requires frequent switching between languages as a child is acquiring new vocabulary. This forming of new neuron connections is also an exercise for the brain and like any other exercise it has proven benefits for the developing mind. As scientists point out, the switch is assumed to be sustained by functional and anatomical changes in the brain, suggesting that there are structural and functional differences in bilingual individuals. 

Moreover, learning in an environment that isn’t strictly from a textbook, but rather in a more interactive, vocal, and hands-on setting, makes the learning process fun and enjoyable.   Kids remember better while their whole body is involved in the learning process via games, songs, and crafts.  As with participation in other scholastic activities, such as joining the math team or playing an instrument in the school band, exposure to learning a new language increases brain flexibility. The effort of switching between languages and realizing new grammatical structures involves a level of mental discipline, which will serve them well with challenging pursuits throughout their academic career.  

Acquiring a Broadened World-View

When learning to speak, read, write, and think in a foreign language in a fun and animated setting, our students become familiar with the culture of the language’s host country, such as customs, holidays, and the history that has shaped its citizens.  Kids have a natural curiosity and our instructors – who are native speakers  --  are eager to share their knowledge of a culture they come from.  This exposure to another culture via language instruction fosters open-mindedness and stimulates  adaptability. Awareness, appreciation, and respect for other people and their traditions, beliefs, and behaviors are important and fun  side effects to learning a new language.

Improved ability to learn more languages in the future

Studies suggest that by acquiring a second language at a young age, more parts of the brain are utilized than in a monolingual brain. As a result, even if a child doesn’t become fluent or doesn’t use their second language after a while, they still have the benefit of developing the language learning area of their brain. In addition, this will make the process of learning new languages easier for them in the future. It is worth noting that learning a second language also naturally focuses the attention on the structure of any language. This has the effect of making students be more attentive to the structure and usage of both their native and their new languages. 

With the enhanced skills of learning – and mastering – a new language, students  translate these aptitudes into strong suits, such as managing priorities and attention to detail.  Multi-tasking becomes second nature as does the ability to exercise patience and tolerate ambiguity.  

In addition to sharpened mental development, a broadened view of the world, and the potential for better performance in language classes in school , the long-term bonuses of mastering a foreign language also include enriched travel experiences and a heightened self-confidence.

The goal of our teachers at the Fun World Language Academy is to bring to your child all that is fun and interesting about learning a foreign language, with the added premium of the skills described above. 

Additional reading

Articles

The 5 cognitive benefits, by Bilingual Kidspot

https://bilingualkidspot.com/2019/05/25/cognitive-benefits-of-bilingualism/?fbclid=IwAR0Z6IJ8YbC9mRCeIjll-D-Eg5irhjL2W6hQXDL91NDW662Z6HIQ-BSTaPU

Influence of Bilingualism on Cognitive Ageing:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4320748/?fbclid=IwAR1Ly_DnDWK0QRN2G7l4H7_K-9IKV3eGCX7xzRY9Nav_ttMfPfAqXLQSlRg

US Employers bilingualism expectations are getting higher: US Employers bilingualism expectations are getting higher:

https://www.leadwithlanguages.org/language-advocacy/publications/?fbclid=IwAR0ej7qGDAv7V75a7JVy58lUADjbk3hAKNcqu6mtZlLOA6TBMi7WzrQt0fc

Books

Raising a Bilingual Child, by Barbara Zurer Pearson

Short Video:

Edutopia, 2 min, Why students should learn a second language:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10157120290894917

Silvia Dubinsky
Why learn German?

German is a language spoken by 129 million people in several European countries – Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Lichtenstein, Holland, Denmark, and Luxembourg.  It is similar to Dutch and Afrikaans.

German also has many vocabulary similarities to English, because English is a Germanic language with Latin influences. While the vocabulary may be easier to guess for English speakers, the grammar is much more complicated, and is a perfect challenge for language nerds. German has three genders and lots of declinations you have to wrap your head around.

Don’t forget to think of this as a good thing – learning a new language is like an exercise for the brain. The more strenuous the exercise, the better shape you will be in. Clearly then, learning German will keep your brain young and healthy while allowing you to make new friends and impress everyone while you travel. 😊

All joking aside, learning German can be surprisingly practical decision for a young person. Germany is the biggest economy in Europe. Its stability and robust growth even during the recent recession is famous and that has attracted employees from all around the world. If you want to work in Europe, knowing English is taken for granted, but knowing German in addition will immediately make you stand out in a job interview.

Even before you get to the job interview though, German can be very useful, as Germany offers more scholarships for international students than any other country (according to the Goethe Institute). Even without the scholarship, many excellent universities in Germany have no tuition.

This could be a great opportunity if you (or your child) would like to study Kant, Nietzsche, or Goethe in original form, while excelling in their business career working for world famous German companies like Siemens, Porsche and Adidas.