Language Stories

10 parent myths about learning a foreign language

Posted by Language Stars on Aug 21, 2017 1:07:42 PM

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Does my child really need to learn a foreign language if everyone speaks English? Won't it be difficult for a child to learn another language? Doesn't technology make being multilingual obsolete?

Questions like these are common among parents; however, they stem from popular misconceptions that are simply untrue. As you research kids' foreign language classes, it's smart to get the facts so you don't get distracted by common language learning myths. 

Myth: English is the global language

It's true that English is a popular language across the globe; however, only 13 percent of the world speaks English. That leaves an estimated 87 percent of people speaking other languages.

Myth: Technology can translate language for us

Technology like Google Translate is a basic tool that translates simple texts, but it will never be able to replace human interpretation and cultural cues that facilitate effective communication.

Myth: Kids will have a hard time learning a new language

Multiple studies prove that the best time to become multilingual is when you're young. The mind is able to absorb language more easily and naturally than into adulthood.

Myth: Language classes are boring for kids

The right language classes will engage children with a lively curriculum. For example, Language Stars' FunImmersion classes include fun games, cultural teachings and spirited songs to strengthen language retention.

Myth: My child should only learn "common" languages

Parents often think kids need to learn popular languages such as Spanish or Mandarin. These are excellent choices, but on the flip side, kids who learn languages less spoken in America, like Arabic or Italian, may have better job opportunities later in life because fewer people in the U.S. speak those languages.

Myth: My child will learn foreign languages at school

Unfortunately, cuts in funding force many schools nationwide to reduce spending on programs such as foreign language study. A quality program may not be an option, so you should be proactive about alternatives. Only 20 percent of K-12 students currently receive world language enrichment in school.

Myth: It's too expensive for my child to learn another language

Enrolling in language classes costs money, but when you consider how much sports and other extracurricular activities cost, it's nothing unusual. What's more, it should be considered an investment in your child's future as you're giving them a skill that will literally pay off in the future via increased job opportunities.

Myth: Language is the only thing my child will learn in classes

High-quality language classes will do more than just introduce speaking, reading and writing. It will show your child different cultural considerations and educate them in diversity so they are better prepared to be global citizens in the future.

Myth: A parent must be multilingual to help their child become multilingual

Living in a multilingual household can help a child to learn another language, but it's not necessary. Kids' minds soak up knowledge at their language courses, and as long as you provide positive support, they'll thrive.

Myth: My child is too old to learn a new language

It's true that it's much easier for children to learn a foreign language during the window of opportunity. This window is typically when a child is between 1-5 years old. However, many Language Stars students have found success learning a world language beyond that age range. No matter your child's age, the cognitive, social and cultural benefits of learning a foreign language outweigh any challenges of learning a language past the window of opportunity.

Not sure what's fact or myth? Share your top language question with the Language Stories community! 

Topics: parenting, foreign language, language