Behind The Benefits Of Being Bilingual
More and more parents are looking into Spanish classes for their children. From elementary Spanish classes to Spanish for preschool students, Spanish classes have most certainly grown more and more prevalent with each passing year. But it’s important for parents to know that Spanish classes should begin as early on as possible, even before elementary Spanish lessons are made available. While the Spanish curriculum for elementary school and the elementary Spanish classes they contain are certainly important, the best window for learning languages is even earlier.
The data on the subject is clear – language learning happens best in the first six or so years of life, when the brain is at its most plastic and malleable. If a foreign language can be introduced before the age of five, this is even more ideal. After all, it is only within the first eight years that children have the skills to naturally acquire languages, typically through the means of imitation, repetition, and songs, though games can also play a helpful role in language learning. At the very most, you can push language learning until ten, but after this point things start to become much more difficult. Starting at eight, children begin to lose their ability for naturally acquiring languages, something that continues to diminish until about the age of 12. After this point, language learning is still possible (and will likely still be easier for the young teenager than the full blown adult), but is not so natural as in years past. Therefore, some elementary Spanish classes will, unfortunately, come just a little too late.
If anything, elementary Spanish classes should really be a follow up to language learning that has taken place earlier on in life. In fact, you might even consider Spanish language immersion programs for your child as they enter their preschool years. A dual language immersion program makes it easy for your child to become bilingual, as immersion is one of the best ways for children to learn a new language. Some worry that this might impede their child from learning English, but this actually could not be further from the case. Children’s brains are able to absorb and disseminate more than one language at a time. And becoming bilingual can actually make it easier to learn a third language, a fourth, and so on and so forth.
And being bilingual, at least on a worldwide scale, is far more common than it is not. It’s only here in the United States that elementary Spanish classes late in elementary school are the first time that a child is exposed to Spanish curriculum lessons or another language. In fact, many a foreign country makes sure to introduce at least one foreign language by the time that children reach eight years of age. And while some schools in the United States include elementary Spanish classes, in some places Spanish classes and other language classes will not be introduced until much later on in the game, such as during middle school (junior high) or even high school. So while more than half of all children (around two thirds) are bilingual on a global scale, less than one fifth of all American children can speak a second language, let alone a third.
And learning Spanish and becoming bilingual, through elementary Spanish classes, dual language immersion programs, and other means, is something that will be largely beneficial in the grand scheme of things. For one thing, language learning, Spanish in particular, is hugely important when looking at our world as a global community. After all, Spanish is spoken as the main language in more than 20 countries, with very nearly 400 million native speakers dispersed throughout the world. This actually makes it the second most spoken language in the entirety of the world, with more people speaking Spanish than the number of people who speak English.
Knowing Spanish or any other second language is also likely to enhance career success later on in life. Knowing a second language has become a hugely valuable skill, something that can boost their income. This is backed up by the data that has been gathered on the topic, showing that people who know more than one language make up to 20% more per hour than monolinguals.