Encouraging Your Child to Learn a Second Language
As an English-speaking nation, Australians are truly blessed when it comes to language learning. While in many other countries around the world learning English is a necessity, in Australia learning a second language is often an optional luxury, and Australians have more freedom to choose to learn whichever language they please. However, the downside to this is that the motivation for many Australians to learn a new language is often not particularly strong, and alongside the rest of the English-speaking world Australia is notoriously monolingual.
The increasingly connected nature of our world and the growth of developing countries means that knowing a second language is becoming a vital component for success for children when they finally grow up. Learning more than one language opens up more opportunities in other countries, and with the rapid development of countries like China it remains to be seen if English will remain the dominant language of the world in the future. But even more importantly, knowing another language opens the mind up to new ways of thinking, and helps children gain an appreciation of the culture and history of different countries around the world. Research has shown that children must begin learning a second language before the age of 7 if they wish to become fully fluent in it, so make sure you give your kids a head start and start them off at an early age!
Not just empty words
Learning the vocabulary is just half the battle. Without a genuine appreciation of the culture and history of the country, second language students will find it difficult to understand the context of what they are learning and struggle to make it beyond the beginner level. The great thing about living in a multicultural society like ours is that there is an abundance of festivals, restaurants and communities from cultures all across the world in Australia, providing a fantastic opportunity for experiencing new cultures and providing context to what second language students are learning in the classroom.
Take it beyond the classroom
Sitting in a classroom for one hour a week surrounded by other Australian schoolchildren is not the best way to learn a language. Reading textbooks and watching documentaries will only get you so far — there is no substitute for immersing oneself in a foreign culture than by spending time in another country. This is where things like student exchange programs come in, an invaluable opportunity for allowing language learners to live among native speakers of the language.