Foreign Language Speech

2 February 2017

Learning a foreign language carries many lifelong benefits other than just knowing the language itself, especially if learned at an early age. Learning a foreign language can be done more efficiently as a child, and can open up many opportunities for later in life while being cognitively beneficial. When it comes to learning a foreign language, the younger you begin the more efficient you will be. Younger brains learn much easier than adult brains because the brain is designed for language acquisition to take place between birth and adolescence.

The brain is much more flexible during this time and contains a wider window of opportunity for learning new things. Unlike adults, children do not have to work past the barriers set by their first language. Adults learning a foreign language have to get used to grammatical strategies, letters and characters, and conjugations that are different from their original language. On the other hand, children can learn both languages side by side so that they can take elements from both to help in learning the other.

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Both languages will register with a kid more clearly this way and they will not have to deal with the confusion that they would if they had learned only one language primarily. Children are also better at learning foreign languages because they are able to mimic the sounds and accents that are crucial to speaking the language better than adults can. Studies have shown that people begin to lose the ability to reproduce new sounds by the ages of 8 to 12 so that they would never be able to mimic exactly some of the sounds and accents of other languages.

Learning the language younger can avoid this issue and allow children to sound just as good as native speakers when speaking a language. Learning a second language can open many doors to children and give them advantages throughout the rest of their life. Learning a foreign language also requires children to immerse themselves in another culture which will improve their global awareness. This will allow them more enriching travel opportunities during their lives and the ability to develop a wider range of connections and relationships on a global scale.

Increasing children’s sensitivity and appreciation of other cultures will further help them in dealing with issues in the future that will require international cooperation. Children who are fluent in foreign languages will also gain a competitive edge in the global job market. Many businesses require workers who can deal with foreigners if they want to compete in the global market, making the knowledge of a foreign language and culture a highly valuable asset that presents many job opportunities that wouldn’t exist for people otherwise.

A very important aspect of learning a foreign language is that it improves the longevity of the health of your brain. Children who have learned a foreign language have in essence exercised their brain, making it healthier so that in the future diseases such as Alzheimer’s are more likely to be avoided. Besides what it does for your brain’s health, there are numerous other cognitive benefits of learning a foreign language as a child. Scientists have done research that shows that children open up more parts of their brain when learning a foreign language.

A study was done that measured the density of grey matter, the stuff in our brains that is responsible for processing things such as memory, speech, and sensory information, to compare between kids who were multilingual and those who weren’t. The kids who knew a second language displayed a larger density of grey matter than those who didn’t, indicating that a larger portion of their brains was used. An example of this that can easily be easily witnessed in kids who are multilingual is their greatly increased knowledge of overall language usage skills.

Kids who have learned a second language have been shown to have a broader vocabulary in their first language because the study of another language has allowed them to study the mechanics of their own more deeply than they would have otherwise. Learning another language helps children to make connections with how they use similar or different concepts in their own language. Knowing this helps children to express themselves more clearly and intellectually in whatever language they are using.

Ultimately, learning a foreign language will improve a child’s overall thinking and learning skills in general, making them smarter in many different unrelated areas. Their creativity is highly improved as they are more trained to look at problems from different angles and think outside of the box. This flexible thinking makes them better problem solvers since they can see problems from different perspectives. The better thinking skills developed from learning a foreign language have also been seen through testing scores.

A report from the College Board stated that kids taking the SAT that had learned a foreign language on average beat the scores of those who hadn’t by 140 points on each section. There are definitely many benefits to be gained from learning a foreign language as a child. Besides the benefits of just knowing the language, there are countless ways it can benefit other aspects of a person’s life. In a world that is rapidly advancing on a global level, the acquisition of a foreign language at an early age is an extremely important way to prepare children both intellectually and socially for whatever the future may hold.

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