A second language is a first-class investment. Your child will benefit immediately from knowing even just a few phrases in another language. They will gain new social competencies, learn about different cultures and lifestyles, and can even make friends in other countries. If they persevere, doors will open for them with ever-greater opportunities for the future. But most importantly, learning another language will give them an experience of success.
Language learning stimulates memory and helps structure the brain. Research shows that children who have learned another language develop intellectual abilities sooner than those who started later in life or those who haven’t learned another language at all.
Children who learn languages are more open-minded. Learning a language helps them develop cross-cultural understanding and allows them to take on new perspectives. Language skills will be critical for participation in future exchange programs or even just for having a pen pal.
Learning a foreign language opens up both predictable and unforeseen career opportunities, especially in the European market, where multilingual candidates are especially sought after. Mastering a foreign language shows adaptability, self-dependency, and an ability to work in a multicultural environment.
The earlier, the better! A language will become a “friend for life.” Early language learning helps children develop their self-confidence and overcome fears of speaking with others. It increases their ability to concentrate, improves listening comprehension, and helps them develop positive personality traits like tolerance and sociability. Moreover, a language learned early in life can always be “reactivated”. Similar to riding a bike, what children have learned at a young age they will never forget.
You are never too old to learn something new. Most people actually first start learning foreign languages after childhood, and they show that it certainly can be done. The modern interactive teaching methods make learning a language not just effective, but fun! Learning German will help you make friends in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the rest of the world.
Your child doesn’t have to learn everything at once. Even basic language skills can make it a pleasure to communicate, which will then provide the motivation to keep going.
That decision lies entirely with you! Some researchers argue that young learners find it easier to start with German and then go on to Spanish, French or Italian. A child finds it easier to learn something that is thought of as “hard”: Using a computer, for example, comes much more naturally to a child than parents might expect. This applies to learning German as well.
Spanish is extremely useful for children, essential even. But they will have better opportunities if they learn at least one more language. For a future career, it will be just as essential to learn German. Germany is the 5th largest trading partner of the US and more than 3700 German firms have branches in the US.
• Choose German!
• Set aside regular times to learn.
• Find interactive learning materials (videos, books, magazines, DVDs, digital programs, etc.)
• Set realistic goals: don’t overwork your child!
• Consider the pace that is right for your child and don’t be afraid of mistakes.
• Make sure to keep track of what they have learned.
• Practice the language with the whole family.
• Organize an exchange with a German-speaking child from another country