Have you ever thought into the fact that some adults seem to grapple to grasp basic foreign vocabulary and dialect, while 4-year-old children are casually counting off in exotic languages just from overhearing it? Due to our inherent need for survival, humans are most receptive at young ages when it comes to learning, developing, and adapting new behaviors to survive in this ever-changing world. As a child, there is this critical window of opportunity where the desire and ability to learn new things is astonishing. Why not take advantage of this period and stimulate your child’s brain by revealing new tongues and concepts to them?
Why is it important for children to become polyglots?
• Going global: Given the immense increase in worldwide globalization, being bilingual or multilingual can be essential in advancing beyond your peers. The countries of the world are becoming interdependent markets, leading to a demand in international professions. By having a fluent background in another nation’s language as well as a cultural understanding, you will have a unique advantage over other applicants for a position within that country.
• Critical period: In this adolescent window of opportunity, we are much more aware and keen to mimic sounds of people around us. Most infants learn their first words, such as “mama” or “dada,” just by copycatting the motions of their parents’ mouths. By exposing your child at this young age, they’re able to imitate and learn the mouth motions of the new language just as easily, creating an ease of which they pick up vocabulary once they’re speech is more developed. This allows them to become more open to learning the proper pronunciation and resonances of a native speaking the language.
• Physical development: Each language has its own unique sound patterns, for those who do not grow up producing these sounds it creates a lack in specific muscles that produce them. Also, different languages use different rhythms of speaking, meaning your diaphragm must also get used to pushing out air in different ways to match said rhythms. These key physical aspects assist the child, once older, in creating well-flowing strings words and sentences.
• Sound recognition: As you grow, you become accustomed to familiar sounds of the dialect immediately around you, by accessing these sounds as a child you become accustomed to hearing them, once we go to learn these new sounds and ways of speaking as an adults our brains tend to tune out unfamiliar sounds
• Availability: Unlike many adults busy with life, children have the time to actually sit down regularly in order to learn new material. Many schools provide some type of foreign language education or courses, requiring children to sit down and learn the lingo step by step, along with having constant contact, for set times multiple times a week, to the subject. This type of repetition makes adjoining the new terminology to daily vocabulary very simple.
Other than the other conveniences of learning a new language at a young age, there are considerable cognitive benefits that associate the practice.
• Studies show children that have acquired one or more new languages, overall, have noticeably higher test scores than their monolingual peers
• Since it is easier for children to pick up the basics in foreign languages, they tend to pick it up faster and feel accomplished, leading to an increase in overall confidence.
• Mentally switching from one language to another creates an adaption in the brain to having multiple things going on at once. Therefore, those who can speak multiple languages have a tendency to be excellent multitaskers and not get overwhelmed or distracted easily.
• Expanding vocabulary, sentence structure, and grammar leads to Improving Memory – the more brain stimulation's and connections made improves your memory capabilities. Your brain, like a muscle, becomes stronger and better with exercise. By constantly utilizing multiple languages, your brain is working harder than most memorizing the rules and vocabulary of this new language on top of your native language.
• Cultural Connections: Building and retaining them, become more perceptive to the world around you, more adept at focusing on relevant info and disregarding the insignificant stuff
However, if you’re an adult and past this peak point in life, do not feel discouraged. There are still benefits of acquiring another language later in life.
• Clear motivation: Whether it’s for a job, a pay raise, travel reasons, or just to pick it up as a hobby, adults only pick up new languages because they want to, not have to. Adults have a distinct drive to be successful in their learnings.
• Established techniques: Later on in life, adults have recognized what learning methods are most effective and which ones do not work. By individuals using the best known method for them, it can lead to learning with effortlessness.
• Background knowledge: After of years of schooling and acquiring wisdom, adults are more capable of making the necessary cultural connections with their new language and can reach levels of more complex terminology and concepts.