Give the Gift of Languages This Holiday Season
by Beth Butler

We live in an increasingly global society. Our neighbor is from Puerto Rico, our co worker is from South Africa and the teacher in preschool class is from Sweden. We realize as adults how hard it is to learn a new language at this point in our life, but it is not too late for our children.

Time and Newsweek ran feature articles on the window of opportunity for second language learning, and it is reported to be between birth and ten years old. It is true! Why? A growing number of brain studies indicate
that young children learn languages easily and retain them longer if they are exposed to new languages
early in life. Experts agree that while a baby is learning one word for an item, it is just as easy for his young
 brain to learn a second word for the same item.

Better yet, the early exposure to the new language almost guarantees native or near native pronunciation. Would not many of us adults raise our hand and step forward for a hand out of native pronunciation in the new language we are trying to learn at this older age?

Recent studies out of York University show that children who received instruction in two languages scored twice as high on language tests than their monolingual peers. These bilingual children also read sooner and demonstrated advanced problem solving capabilities. (Dr. Ellen Bialystok, 2001)

Just this year the SAT College Entrance Exam Board claimed that students taking the SAT Entrance Exam with four years of foreign language in their academic past scored higher on the exam than students who had had little or no exposure to that line of academia.

Latest research suggests that children learning through a bilingual format will outperform their mono-lingual peers in grade school as they experience advanced cognitive development. The additional benefits derived from learning a second language before elementary school include, but are not limited to, advanced cognitive development (your child will be smarter), heightened awareness of other cultures (able to travel through this global economy much more successfully), and better opportunities later in life (chances are the job offers and salary offers will be more enticing for your grown child).

You see how quickly your child learns new things between the ages of birth and five. Do you not agree with me that a new language should be next on the list of important things to bring into the life of your child? Give this gift early enough, and your child will read sooner, score higher on standardized tests and have better opportunities in life. With many linguists, educators and experts agreeing that sooner is better, begin the bilingual fun now!

Within the first eleven months of life a baby has the ability to learn all of the more than 6,000 languages of our world. What an amazing feat that would be! Up until the age of five a child still has the ability to learn five languages simultaneously. By middle school we all know learning a new language is no longer as easy as it used to be in elementary school. Children whose brains have been wired to learn languages early in life will experience advanced success in learning any language of their choice later in life.

Find a fun way to bring the language learning into the daily routine of your family. Look for programs and products that use a bilingual format for children ages birth through five. Reason being that as the young child is still acquiring skills in their native language; the new language should be presented in a seamless bilingual format with both languages presented side by side. This allows for better retention and higher self esteem.

Make the second language journey easy and fun for you and your child. Sing, dance and play together as you enjoy learning each new word on the path to becoming bilingual for successful travel through our very global society. The gift of a new language should be the focus of every parent and teacher who touches the lives of young children.

Beth Butler is the founder of the Boca Beth Program for young children.
Find out how fun and easy it can be to raise a bilingual child.
Scoop your child up onto your lap and sample our bilingual music and movies for free at .
Call toll free to 1.877.825.2622.