Sunday, 7 December 2014

What are the benefits of early 2nd language learning?

In a multi-cultural place like Dubai, you can hear a multitude of languages every day. The benefit of living somewhere like this is that as well as constantly hearing different languages being spoken, most schools and nurseries will offer some kind of 2nd language tuition. So what are the benefits of your little one learning a 2nd language early on and how can you support them?  

Benefits of early language acquisition

  • Your little one's brain is like a sponge and is designed to learn languages from before birth. 
  • During this period of early childhood, your child is very able to mimic accents and pronunciation, enabling them to develop near-native pronunciation, something adults and older children have a much harder time doing.
  • As language acquisition is so important in their early years, even when learning a foreign language, children are more able to understand and use the rules of different languages so find it easier to learn. 
  • As it is easier to learn languages at a young age, you child won't feel the difficulties of language learning that older children and adults do, and should find it fun!
  • It is thought that because the brain can simultaneously run two (or more) languages and can switch between the two, early 2nd language acquisition can have cognitive benefits such as better ability to multi-task, increased observation skills and enhanced problem solving skills.   
  • As well as the cognitive benefits, it has been suggested there are academic benefits too such as improved reading and writing skills and of course being able to speak more than one language opens up doors for the future, for both academic and employment opportunities!

How can you support your little one when learning a new language? 

  • If you are keen for your child to learn a 2nd language, look for nurseries or schools that have this option. 
  • If you have friends or family who speak the 2nd language, encourage them to use this language around your little one, it is amazing what they will pick up!
  • Make it fun! - If it is fun, your child will enjoy it, be more likely to retain what they have learnt and be more interested in learning other languages in the future.
  • Encourage your child - even if you don't speak the language, show your child how proud you are of them and keep them interested and excited to learn. Also see if there are events in your area that promote the culture or language that your child is learning. You could also look for books, songs or programs that incorporate this language. For example, Dora the Explorer is great for helping little ones learn some basic Spanish :)
I hope you and your children enjoy all of the benefits learning a 2nd language has to offer, have fun!

For more information and ideas, check out our Facebook page

See you soon!

 Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development. 


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