Learning a new language is beneficial for all ages, but it’s important to start them young. At Woodcrest Elementary, K-4 is starting to learn Mandarin for 30 minutes twice a week. This allows the children to open up their perspective and delve away from the traditional Spanish, French, or German.
“Mandarin, compared to Spanish, is more different than English in terms of linguistic features,” Mandarin teacher Jingcheng Wang said in an email interview. “They may need more instruction to learn Mandarin especially at the beginning. Since Spanish is more popular in the United States, it can be easier to self-learn Spanish. In addition, Mandarin is spoken by most people in this world. It will be good for students’ development such as job searching if they can speak Mandarin and understand Chinese culture.”
Studies show that learning a new language at a younger age is very helpful. According to LeadWithLanguages.com, there are many benefits to learning languages at a young age. One benefit to this is that their academic achievement is boosted. When bilingual children are compared to those who are not, their scores are higher in math, reading and writing, and also score higher on standardized tests.
“What I think is that it increases their confidence, and certainly part of what Jincheng does and or other foreign language teachers as well is they develop cultural awareness,” Woodcrest Principal Jeffrey Pennex said. “And these are skills that can be developed in ensuing years, the elementary program does a nice job of increasing students awareness, so that when they do get to middle school, they have a sense as far as whether they would like to really pursue a language with a great amount of follow through. Beyond the obligatory I have to take X credits.”
In addition to learning a new language, children also learn the culture behind them as well. If students are going to communicate with others of a different culture, they need not only to understand their culture but also take into account their own beliefs and make sure they don’t exert them to the person they are speaking to. This opens the door for children to be more opened minded and thinking outside of the box.
“I do think the speaking of Mandarin is on the rise in the United States according to some statistics,” Wang said. “With more and more communicative needs between Americans and Chinese, it is understandable that the speaking of Mandarin is on the rise.”
Although some people don’t believe it, children are able to learn multiple languages at once and are not as confused as they would be if they learned them at a later age. Learning multiple languages early in life allows the brain to be more open to learning other languages as time progresses which opens up opportunities later in life.
“I think children should learn at least one second language and they can have choice about learning more languages or not,” Wang said. “However, learning different languages can give them many benefits such as more job opportunities and more different ways of thinking.”
Being able to communicate with numerous amounts of different people can strengthen the community we grow up in and it can also show people of other cultures that some people want to try and get to know more about them. By starting children young, they tend to stick with that language longer and it has a positive correlation to their development. The longer students learn, they grow culturally as well and develop a deeper understanding and connection as they mature.