Skills Mean Success
In February, 2011, the general secretary of the Association of Spanish Language Academies said that by 2050, ten percent of the world's population will speak Spanish, and the United States will be the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. By then, ten percent of the population will equate to nearly one billion people.
Now is the time to prepare your kids for this shift in global linguistics. Children born over the next 10 to 20 years will be graduating from college, entering the workforce, and building their careers by the time 2050 rolls around. You may ask yourself why it matters for your child to study Spanish if that's not your native language. Learning Spanish at an early age, and continuing with it through to adulthood, will have several benefits for your child, from higher grades to higher paying jobs. If you want more advantages for your kids, Spanish is the key. Here's how.
Kids Should Study Spanish Earlier For Better Results
Children learn language from their parents and the other people around them. You speak to your kids from the time they're born, even before they're able to respond in kind. This is how we all learn to communicate–by listening, and then repeating what we hear. This is the same way your child will learn to speak Spanish.
As a child grows, his brain is collecting information at a phenomenal rate, forming new synapses and building memories. Prior to the age of about ten, when this development begins to slow, children are especially adept at learning new things, particularly language. The earlier a child begins studying languages, the faster–and the more languages–he can learn.
Bilingual Kids Perform Better in School
Because learning more than one language requires the brain to develop more neural connections, most children who speak more than one language perform better on literacy tests. In addition, studies have shown that children who are bilingual also have superior problem-solving skills – the proverbial ability to "think outside the box."
When kids study Spanish – or any other language – at an early age, they perform better in all classes, especially those that require problem-solving skills, like math. It's even been proved that bilingual kids perform better on their SATs. The United States lags behind other countries in math abilities which are a foundation for sciences from biology to computer technology. When your child learns a new language, she'll perform better in high school, can pursue a college degree in a competitive field, and will be better prepared to enter the workforce, potentially in a lucrative career field, especially one that may require Spanish-speaking skills.
For Kids, Spanish Opens Up Opportunities
Your child's high school may offer an exchange student program. This can give your child a couple of unique opportunities to study Spanish, and put those skills to use. First, a Spanish-speaking student may attend your kid's school. Being in a new country where you don't know anyone can be scary. Having someone who understands and speaks Spanish will put that exchange student at ease, and help make their experience more positive and rewarding. You may even be able to host a Spanish-speaking exchange student in your home.
It may be your child who gets the opportunity to be an exchange student in another country. Living for a few months in Spain, Mexico, or a South American country can be the experience of a lifetime for your child. You don't want your kid to be the one who's new to a country, unable to communicate, and miserable. Make sure they study Spanish in preparation for the chance to make some wonderful memories.
Bilingual People Have More Job Opportunities
By the time your child is graduating from college and entering the work force, the number of Spanish-speaking people worldwide will have grown exponentially. Competition for good jobs is already fierce. You want your child to have every advantage available to him. Being bilingual will give your child a leg up over job candidates who only speak one language.
Companies seek bilingual employees for a few reasons. It could be that they're based in areas with high Hispanic populations, meaning that a large portion of their customer base is Spanish-speaking. The ability to communicate with customers in their native language is a great benefit to those companies. Many companies also engage in international business, and may have satellite offices in Spanish-speaking countries. While they do employ people from the local community, they also need to maintain oversight. The sooner your child begins to study Spanish, the more job opportunities will be available to him when he's ready to enter the workforce.
Bilingual People Earn More
You want your child to be successful and to earn a good living. Encouraging her to study Spanish now can help her several years from now when she's looking for a job. Having Spanish skills on her resume, when so much of the world's population is going to speak Spanish, will make her more attractive to employers, and give her an advantage over candidates who don't speak the language.
In addition, it's been proved that bilingual employees earn, on average, 20 percent more per hour than monolingual employees. Multiply that over a lifetime, and your child's ability to speak Spanish can mean the difference between living paycheck to paycheck and living comfortably. The more you can do for your child now, the better prepared she'll be for any eventuality in the future–like the economic uncertainty you're living through right now.
The More Opportunities to Study Spanish, The Better
You may think additional Spanish lessons aren't necessary if your child is taking a Spanish class in school. Why should you push him to study Spanish with audio courses at home? Look at it this way. Your child also takes math and English in school. But he has the opportunity to practice those subjects every day away from school—in speaking, writing, and reading, and in performing simple calculations when he's buying the latest video game, or making sure he has enough money to go out on the weekend. Chances are, he's not encountering Spanish-speaking opportunities outside of school.
Without opportunities outside of school to use the language he's learning, just one hour a day, five days a week isn't going to be enough to build fluency, and for him to gain the most benefit from being bilingual. How much Spanish do you remember from high school? Start supplementing your kids' language education now to help them build a more stable, secure future.