Fear of overloading a child (too many activities, too many obligations, too many expectations) in their early years is a common concern amongst today's parents. This is especially true when it comes to language learning, which is made worse by an assumption that early second language exposure can have a negative impact on primary language fluency. However, the truth is, it is never too early to start a bilingual learning journey. In fact, studies show that children who learn to speak two languages simultaneously from an early age will not only have have the best chance at true fluency in both, but they will also learn to talk at the same speed, if not faster, than kids who learn only one language.
Perhaps even more interestingly, according to the above research, no matter what age these kids started learning the second language, they were able to learn it far better when gaining exposure in their families or natural communities as opposed to solely a classroom setting!
So, with the myth of developmental disadvantages in bilingual kids now largely debunked, let’s take a look at some of the ways that early childhood dual-language exposure is a gift to your child.
Gives Them a Head Start
Children who begin learning another language before they turn 5 are uninhibited by the fear of making mistakes (a potential obstacle for older learners), and thus use the exact same part of their brain to learn the second language as they did to learn their first.
Start Early and Stay
Did you know that the length of time that a student is able to devote to learning a language has a positive and direct correlation to cognitive development? Longer sequences allow learners the opportunity to grow alongside the additional culture and language they’re given, and develop a far deeper connection as they mature and go through life.
Nurture and Feed Their Brains
Recent studies have also shown that allowing children to learn a second language can boost critical thinking, problem-solving, and listening skills, as well as improve concentration, memory, and the helpful ability to multitask — all massive signs of mental flexibility and enhanced creativity.
Boost Their Academic Achievement
The cognitive benefits of second language learning can have a direct impact on academic success, with children shown to have improved math, reading, and writing skills, as well as corresponding higher test scores.
Nurture Their Cultural Sensitivity, Curiosity, Tolerance, and Empathy
When exposed to languages earlier than their peers, children have been shown to display more positive attitudes towards cultures outside of their own, nurturing their curiosity, sensitivity, tolerance, and empathy.
The Bottom Line
Whether you're part of an already dual language familia, brand new to second language learning, or somewhere in between, giving your child added support in the home is key for raising a happy, healthy bilingual child. In fact, learning alongside your child can be just the encouragement they need. And reading together, each and every day, is an effective and delightful way to do it! Here at Sol Book Box, we're committed to providing a better, easier, more delightful way for U.S. familias to access exceptional Spanish & bilingual children’s books. Check out our curated subscription boxes, and start nurturing a lasting love of reading!