Top benefits of learning languages
There are so many languages in the world, let alone in India! Language is an integral part of the culture of the land and helps bind people together. It helps us connect and empathize with each other. But how important is it to learn a new language? Is learning a second or third or let us just say, more than one language, worth it? Which foreign language is best to learn? All these questions often crop into our minds when we think of trying to learn another language.
Undoubtedly learning a new language has multiple advantages. Whether as an adult or child, picking up the dialect, style and accent of a foreign language is one of the best assets to have. It holds one in good stead while conversing and instantly bridges any sort of communication gaps. Practically too, it helps to know the language of the place you are staying or travelling to. Whether it is while commuting, trying to know the tourist spots and their history, reading road signs, ordering food and more, being able to understand the language of the country or city makes life far easier.
Children and new languages
But, is it true that early childhood is the best time to learn a second language? Initially, it was thought that teaching children more than one language would confuse them. However, it is increasingly being accepted that there are multiple benefits of teaching children a new language. In fact, Daniel Yurovsky, assistant professor in psychology at Carnegie Mellon University mentions that children tend to learn languages faster than adults. Children have a better cognitive understanding which helps them grasp new languages better. Again, there are also argumentative studies that show that it is not really children who learn a language faster, but they learn it differently. And hence, the notion that kids acquire proficiency over second languages better.
Benefits of learning a new language
It is universally accepted that learning a new language has many advantages. This is true for children too, as they are still in their formative and development years. And the advantage of knowing more than one language opens up various experiences and opportunities for them. Besides, learning a new language also helps in the enhancement of their overall development.
So what benefits do children gain from learning a new language?
Mental and intellectual growth
Research has shown children learning more than one language have increased gray matter. It means that such kids are able to multi-task and focus better. Being multilingual improves their problem solving, listening, creative and critical thinking skills. Additionally, research also shows that the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s may slow down for people who know more than one language.
Empathy and emotional growth
When kids are exposed to different languages, they are also inherently exposed to different cultures. They are able to understand and empathize with people who are different from them. As Dr. Kinzler at Cornell University points out, children who are multilingual consider the perspective of others better than children who are monolingual. Learning new languages also helps in cross-cultural understanding and creates sensitivity and inclusivity amongst the child.
Yes, learning new languages also helps in boosting the child’s academic results. Children who know secondary languages tend to read and write better. In fact, they also become better in their native languages. The academic achievement is not only limited to languages, but multilingual children also perform better in mathematics.
Opens up career options
Well, a child is too young to start thinking of their future career. But, learning language skills can prepare and give an early start for a global career. With the option of studying in foreign universities luring students across the world, learning a foreign language can prove extremely advantageous. No doubt, the student can learn the language later too, but because they pick it faster as a kid, they get an early head start. Besides, there are many lucrative careers that span over languages, such as translations, transcription jobs, foreign language teaching, English teaching etc.
Increases human communication and connection
Simply put, knowing more languages means being able to communicate with more people. It widens the spectrum of connectivity and communication manifold. In today’s time language skills also play a major role in all the 4C’s of the of 21st century skills, whether it is in communication, creativity, collaboration or critical thinking.
Ways to learn a new language
There are many offline and online ways to learn a new language.
The first easy and important place is not learn additional language in school. Most curricula like IGCSE, IB, CBSE, CISCE have options to learn 2 or 3 languages from Grade 3 and upwards. Even NEP also focuses on learning additional languages.
There are many apps for learning languages or online courses too. In fact, some you can be learning languages for free too. There are apps for learning English, French, Spanish, Russian and many Indian, Chinese languages too. Besides, various online applications also provide tips to learn a new language or how to learn a new language fast.
Outside of school curricula, there are many institutes or coaching programs, offline, language classes and courses that one can enroll children into.
Finally, learning a new language is fun and useful. It has many advantages and especially when due to technology our world has become more accessible, knowing more languages is always a huge benefit.
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