8 Benefits for Children Acquiring a Second Language

Why your child should learn French as a second language?


There are many benefits of children acquiring a second language including the skill of problem-solving, critical-thinking and improved listening skills. Learning a language can also improve memory, concentration, and helps the child to be able to multitask. Bilingual children have also been known to think faster and exhibit better self control.

Learning a second language will make your child very adaptable to a work environment where they can work with people from different backgrounds.


When should my child begin learning French?

Children’s brains are more plastic, more capable of change and new learning than a typical adult brain. They have an ability to create new learning pathways. Synapses in the nervous system form as early as the fifth week after conception. Language development can begin while the child is still in the womb. But when is the optimum time for your child to learn a new language?


Many experts including a study conducted in MIT believe that the most effective age to begin language learning is aged 10. This is mainly related to pronunciation and how the learner pronounces the words. The chances of developing the grammatical fluency of a native in a second language declines after age 18.


There are an abundance of resources online for free at your fingertips but before embarking on a thorough search of the internet, here are some key points you must be aware of before your child embarks on their journey of learning French.


Start early

The sooner you introduce teaching your child French the better. Children’s brains are still growing meaning they are receptive to new sounds. Early on, their brain is programmed to attend to speech sounds and begin to mimic them. Later on, they will attempt to repeat sounds and words they’re exposed to from their environment. As a parent, conversations at the dinner table are important for their language development and also making observations whilst outside and commenting on them with your child in your spoken foreign language. Ask your child questions about what they see and gradually encourage them to expand their sentences and vocabulary. Exposure is key so it normalises learning a new language. If you do not speak French, you can enroll your child in French lessons here.


Create a calm and positive Learning Environment

In order for your child to enjoy learning french, their environment must be one where learning can happen. Managing your child’s behavior whilst learning is very important. A good relationship with your child will help them to learn better. Clear communication where your child feels comfortable and knows the boundaries so that they feel safe learning. Your child needs to feel trusted to be able to make mistakes and not be afraid to fail. Your child also needs somewhere to learn with minimal distraction. This should preferably not be their bedroom as this is associated with sleeping and relaxation. Possibilities include the kitchen, dining room or living room. No electronics should be in this room and distractions should be very limited. Having the same location will create an atmosphere where learning can thrive.


Identify their learning style

Every child learns differently. Find out if your child is a visual, auditory, kinesthetic or a reading and writing learner. This will affect how the information is presented via a format or a hands-on approach to your child. For example, a visual learner will respond better to graphs, charts and diagrams whereas an auditory learner will prefer to hear the information whilst they study. This should be communicated with their teacher or tutor to best support their learning.


Schedule regular breaks

Breaks should include some kind of movement and last at least 15-20 minutes at a time. Students in High School can focus for over an hour, first and second graders are unlikely to last more than 15 minutes on a single activity. Allow your child to take a movement break after finishing a section of their work if they are learning at home via an online platform.


Look at the bigger picture

Your child is learning a life skill. They will use French as they get older, it is not just a random subject they take in school. Your child should know the reason behind learning a language. Verbally praising your child will lead to them being intrinsically motivated. This means your child is learning French because they enjoy it and find it interesting rather than because they are getting an outside incentive. Make sure they are focused on the positives of learning French. Your child should be made aware of the different countries where French is spoken in the world including France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada and Switzerland.


Lessons should be short and simple

Children’s attention spans are short. Their vocabulary and conversational skills will be limited in the beginning. Activities should be no more than 10-15 minutes in length. In order to maximize learning time, lessons should always be delivered quickly. Sharp and fun activities will keep your child engaged. Lessons can involve movement to stimulate their brain and give them a break from focusing on work.


Enroll your child in Language Classes

Although French is one of the top three languages taught in the school system in New York City, many children still struggle with it. Class periods are short and class sizes are frequently growing. Finding extra classes with small student intake will benefit each and every student. Your child needs a certain amount of one to one attention that will improve their pronunciation and vocabulary skills when learning French.


Take a Trip

The most important factor when acquiring a new language appears to be the way in which they do it. People who learned via immersion—living in an English-speaking country more than 90 percent of the time—were significantly more fluent than those who learned in a class environment. You and your family can enjoy a trip to The South of France while your child practices the language of the local people. Your child will gain confidence and also become more open minded and culturally aware of how people in different countries live.


Our children are growing up in a world where multiple languages are being taught and spoken in classrooms. In 2016, 22% of children in The United States spoke another language at home other than English. Your child’s future will be greatly enhanced by acquiring French. Many benefits including competitiveness in the job market, pay increases and opportunities to travel will ensure your child has a bright future after learning French.

About the Author

Andrei is a linguist who speaks several languages fluently. He founded Elite French Tutoring as an expression of his passion for entrepreneurship and for the French language and French culture. He has helped numerous professionals, students and young people dramatically improve their skills in the French language.

As the Emperor Charlemagne said: "To have another language is to possess a second soul."

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