3 Reasons to Teach Your Toddler a Second Language
Language immersion preschools have seen a notable surge in popularity over the last ten years. Suddenly, scores of toddlers from monolingual households are excitedly reciting the alphabet in languages not spoken in the home. For families who regularly engage in international travel, this makes sense. Similarly, for children of bilingual parents, this makes even more sense. But what about your “typical” toddler. What do they stand to gain from language lessons?
The answer might surprise you. Research studying the benefits of second language learning in young children offers up a number of compelling reasons to introduce your child to the foreign language of your choice. From longer attention spans to greater empathy, we’re spotlighting three of the biggest benefits of learning a second language as a toddler.
Elevated Executive Functioning Skills
One of the primary skill sets toddlers need to learn is what is referred to as executive functioning. This refers to activities such as sorting coloring blocks and remembering basic patterns. Covering everything from working memory to emotion regulation, these are a set of mental skills that include flexible thinking, memory, emotional self control, and following directions. Repeated studies show that bilingual toddlers perform markedly better on executive functioning tests than monolingual toddlers.
Increased Attention Spans
Toddlers aren’t exactly known for exceptionally long attention spans. However, when tested, studies show that toddlers who regularly engage in learning a second language – whether through formal, in-person immersion schools or virtual learning technology and educational videos – consistently display better ability to remain focused even in the midst of distracting external stimuli. The benefits of increasing the ability to remain on-task will serve children as they navigate increasingly complex life and academic skills in the next few years. From learning to tie their own shoes to mastering the basics of letter-sound correlation, kids who can focus will outperform those who struggle to pay attention.
Better English Skills
Unless English is not your child’s first language, teaching your kids a second language has been shown to be incredibly helpful in giving them a framework for understanding and mastering the English language. Why? By activating the language learning centers in the brain, you’re activating a multi-purposed set of neural connections that translate organically from one language to the next and give children a boost in language development capabilities.
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