Research has shown the numerous benefits of learning multiple languages and the enhanced ease of doing so at a young age. Babies are born with the potential to speak any language. At just six months old, infants are capable of distinguishing sounds from any language. By 12 months old, children have already started to focus on the sounds of their primary language and by two and three years old, have begun to recognize speech patterns.
The earlier a language is introduced, the easier a child can identify its unique sounds. The ability to identify phonetic pronunciations is most acute before age three and begins to diminish the older we get. A child’s brain is developmentally prepared to learn language at this early age and prompt exposure can improve fluency and minimize or even eliminate speaking with an accent.
Children who learn multiple languages experience many benefits including development of superior problem solving, critical thinking, math skills, listening and concentration skills, creativity, memory, mental flexibility, multi-tasking abilities and higher standardized test scores. Learning a language prepares the brain to learn additional languages whereby also improving a child’s ability to learn English.
By bringing up a bi-lingual (or multi-lingual) child, you expand their world. They will have more opportunities, more access to resources, people, places and things simply by virtue of their language abilities. This is advantageous in school and the workplace and for creating an appreciation of culture and diversity.
Kathleen Marcos says it effectively in her book Benefits of Being Bilingual: “Americans who are fluent in more than one language can enhance America’s economic competitiveness abroad, maintain its political and security interests, and work to promote an understanding of cultural diversity within the United States. For example, international trade specialists, overseas media correspondents, diplomats, airline employees, and national security personnel need to be familiar with other languages and cultures to do their jobs well. Teachers, healthcare providers, customer service representatives, and law enforcement personnel also serve their constituencies more effectively when they can reach across languages and cultures. Developing the language abilities of the students now in school will improve the effectiveness of the workforce later.”