Why should you learn a foreign language? You, like many others, are possibly thinking about immigrants and how many of them never learn English. You’re probably thinking about how we live in America and if you want to live here then you should learn the language. Well, you may have a point.
But, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m going to tell you why you should learn foreign language and why you should encourage your children to learn. You should also start them early. The earlier, the better.
Money is the reason you should learn foreign language. While English is a major language, it only accounts for around 30% of the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and is likely to account for less in the future. On average, you can earn a 2% bonus on your annual salary just by being bi-lingual. That number will only get larger over time.
These numbers don’t take in to account Mandarin Chinese or Arabic. If you have an interest in working for the FBI, their most in demand languages are Swahili, Urdu, Farsi and Bahasa Indonesian.
When I worked in corrections, there were only a handful of employees who spoke Arabic. There were only two who could read, write and speak the language. Guess how many inmates read, write and speak Arabic?
Due to converting to the Muslim faith, about 24% of the US inmate population learns Arabic. That’s one-fourth of the population!
Another good reason to learn foreign language…wouldn’t you like to know what everyone is saying? Have you been somewhere and overheard someone speaking another language? Did you wonder if they were talking about you?
I learned Spanish and German in high school. I have always been fascinated with being able to communicate with others in their own language. I continued study in Spanish and now read, write and speak the language. In German, I can read, write and speak it but I am far from fluent. I may be able to read the words and pronounce them correctly, but I don’t know what most of them mean.
As I got older, I have found the less I practice the harder it is for me to retain. I have become very rusty in Spanish but I can usually keep up in a conversation. Although sometimes I have to say, “Habla despacio por favor”. (Speak slowly please.)
Children learn foreign languages easier than adults. Recent studies indicate that the best time for a child to learn another language is in the first three to four years of life. Children can learn almost anything if they are tasting, touching, seeing, and feeling information.
Their brains are like sponges. They are also better able to identify subtle differences in sounds. The younger the learner, the better they are at mimicking new sounds and adopting pronunciation. The brain is more open to new sounds and patterns.
Think about what you can do to help your child be more successful. Here are some useful tools for language learning (books and software).