The Benefits of Learning a Language other than English
Learning another language other than English (LOTE) broadens young growing minds and introduces them to other cultures, traditions and society’s ways of life in general. This experience and understanding is invaluable for students particularly considering Australia’s strong multicultural makeup. Many students learn languages through singing, dancing, craft, books, technology and mainstream teaching methods. Students in lower school years focus on ‘fun’ based learning, while older grades place more emphasis on language, writing, reading, listening and speaking in languages other than English (LOTE).
Have you ever heard of children referred to as “sponges”? That statement couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to a child learning a foreign language.
There are so many advantages:
Children’s brains are developmentally ready to accept and learn a foreign language, and fluency comes easily and rapidly. Contrary to popular belief, learning a foreign language doesn’t inhibit the child’s English language proficiency, it enhances and improves it!
Cognitive Benefits of Learning a Language
Research shows students who learn another language also benefit in these ways:
- better problem solving skills
- better critical thinking skills
- more creativity
- better flexibility of mind
- enhanced memory
- better multi-tasking abilities
Students who learn another language often demonstrate higher academic achievement. This is due to creative and critical thinking skills and mental flexibility.
Learning a Language increases Cultural Awareness
Learning a foreign language opens doors. Those students who work to become fluent in a second language have access to resources, people, places, and things that the rest of us do not. Not only can a foreign language provide a competitive edge in the workforce, but it creates a deeper understanding of and appreciation for humanity and culture, which enriches one’s life and personal experiences in the world.
As with any learning, supporting, encouraging and perhaps learning alongside your child can enhance these learning opportunities.
Tips to support your child if they are learning a language
- Become involved in the curriculum your child is learning. Take opportunities to meet with their specialist teacher and find out ways to reinforce skills at home.
- Create some flashcards using key words or vocabulary and display them around the house. This assists in reinforcing the lessons that the child is learning in the classroom.
- If your child is learning a second language, it is a good idea to expose them to individuals that speak that language in a native manner. This will assist in increasing their proficiency.
- Learn the language alongside your child. This will prove to be highly motivational for both you and your child and may help you both in achieving success in that language.
- Access technology (such as apps, YouTube, audio recordings, games) to make learning fun and interactive.
- Consider opportunities to host students from other countries (if your school provides these opportunities).
Grace Primary has a strong LOTE program and many students who are keen to pursue the learning of Japanese and other languages beyond their primary education. The school’s community has also enjoyed a Japanese homestay experience with students from Tokyo’s Aoyama Gakuin Elementary School visiting this year.