5 good reasons to teach your child another language

Hello! Long time no see, but it is time to revive this blog, because I have been getting so many messages about the challenges faced by parents when trying to raise their child bilingually.

So I decided it was time to tell you why you should raise your child speaking more than one language - regardless of your own level - starting today.

Basically, it’s a mindset shift. Rather than focusing on the obstacles, I would like to focus on the benefits, and take it from there..

Now, if you’re going to put lots of time and effort into teaching your child another language, it really needs to have substantial benefits. I don’t know a single parent who claims to have too much time on their hands - so if we are going to add something to our lives, it better be pretty amazing.

As you can imagine, I am on the ‘you must learn another language camp’. There are many reasons why you should teach your child another language, and here are my top five:

1. Why not?

If you can, why wouldn’t you? This is something that always amazes me when I meet multilingual parents who are not sure about teaching their children another language.

It often stems from out-of-date information and bilingualism myths, where people used to think that learning more than one language would delay speech or confuse children. This is simply not the case.

In fact, quite the opposite! Numerous studies have shown that even very young babies have the ability to recognise different languages.

And they also quickly realise with whom they should use which language - so for instance, they will know that you say ‘duck’, but that their grandma uses the word ‘quack-quack’ for the same thing.

For more information, you might want to read this article.

2. Your child will find it easy

When children learn another language from a young age, they basically don’t realise the miracle their brains are performing. For us adults, it becomes a much more conscious (and difficult) process, because our brains are wired for the language we already know.

This is not to say that children will simply absorb and regurgitate the language effortlessly - it does take a bit of effort to cultivate language growth, but the earlier they start, the easier it will be.

It has also been proven that multilinguals are better and more confident communicators, are more able to overcome obstacles in communication, deal better with ambiguity, have more cultural empathy and are more open-minded. (Source: Raising Multilingual Children, by Festman, Poarch and Dewaele).

3. Speaking another language opens many doors

Not just professionally, but also if you travel (yes, we will be allowed to travel again one day, we will!) or meet people who speak the other language.

Knowing another language as a child is basically one of life’s freebies in their brain’s piggy-bank.

4. Being bilingual gives your child an educational advantage

Numerous studies have shown that bilingual children regularly outperform monolingual children in their native language.

Speaking more than one language gives your child the ability to compare systems, which in turns transforms him into a budding linguist or even anthropologist from a very young age! You can read more about this here.