Learning a new language can unlock so many new frontiers for a child.
Added professional advantages, stronger brain development, and greater cultural awareness. But out of all the languages to learn, which one is the right one for your child?
Let's get straight into it.
The best languages to learn
Your choice of language for your child should be a widely spoken language in one or some part of the world. Greater the number of speakers, the higher the chance to practically use their second language.
We wrote a post on What the second language should I teach my child? Which explores some of the practical considerations of learning a new language.
Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the United States. In addition to that, it's the fourth largest spoken language in the world. For native English speakers, living in the US and Canada, Spanish is a great second language of choice. Beyond practical application, there is a lot of tutoring help available in North America. Due to the many incoming immigrants from Mexico, you can find native Spanish speakers to be your child's tutor.
Some may even consider Spanish to be the unofficial second language of the US simply based on numbers. This means there are multiple jobs in the US that require fluency in Spanish alongside English. The cultural horizons this unlocks are also expansive. Often called the romance language, Spanish allows a greater degree of expression beyond plain English. Spanish also shares Latin roots with other romance languages like French, Italian and Portuguese. Learning Spanish can make learning these other languages as well.
As the fifth most spoken language in the world, french has a certain degree of gleam to it. Paris is the city of love, high fashion, and croissants. Those alone are good enough reasons to consider French to be a language for your child out of all foreign languages.
French is the official language of France and is also used as a national or official language in 29 countries. Additionally, France has 11 Overseas Territories which are administrative subdivisions of France, outside the mainland. French is also highly sought after in the high fashion industry primarily based in and around France. France is a hotspot for some of the biggest brands in the world including, food, automobiles, and a plethora of creative fields. A knowledge of French puts your child in line to reach for job opportunities for some of the biggest brands in the world. As the native language of France, the cultural exposure that your child can have is also quite rich. As we mentioned above, French is used beyond the borders of a European country, so adding French to your child's language skills is invaluable. Combined with English, French speakers can travel to and navigate interactions in almost all of North America and Europe.
Learning French is also relatively easy for English language speakers. The languages share the same Latin origin with most words being very similar to each other. The learning curve is quite flat, with a great lot of advantages.
If we include Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese, it makes the Chinese language the third most spoken language in the world. Combined, over a billion people speak the Chinese language. Lauded to be the language of the business world, learning Chinese has upsides that you probably would've never imagined.
Mandarin is the language spoken by 70% of the population of China. China is the largest manufacturing hub in the world, with prominent innovation and technology companies now setting up roots in China as well. Unequivocally, China is leading the world on many fronts, and a knowledge of Mandarin puts your child in a position to leverage a position at some of the most prestigious companies in the world. If your child does take the path of an entrepreneur in the future, this language of international business is a perfect addition to complement their entrepreneurial goals.
With a large population comes a variety of cultures. The cultural richness in China and its people is so vast and so fascinating. Being able to talk in Mandarin, allows an outsider to navigate this culture, indulge in a whole new set of experiences, and have an overall rich life experience. Yes, the business advantages are there and certainly can't be overlooked but the level of versatility, that the Chinese can bring to an individual's life can't be understated. Combined with English, a person who knows Mandarin can effectively communicate with over a billion people, and that's no small feat.
Germany is one of the world's largest and highly flourishing economies. German companies are trailblazers when it comes to high-quality manufacturing and engineering. Almost all great engineering feats can be traced back to Germany. Germany is said to be the most creative country in the European Union so with a language like German, your child could potentially design cars, invent something new, and at the very least be part of a culture of innovation and progress.
As far as immediate personal gain is considered when it comes to knowing more than one language, German leads the way there too. Germany is one of the few nations and the only industrious one that offers free college education for foreign nationals. The universities in Germany are one of the best in the world, and while they offer courses in English as well, knowing German in Germany would be ideal, if your child were to study there.
But how to choose from all the languages around the world?
Apart from the four languages above, there are hundreds of languages that your child can learn. The final choice will not be dictated only by popularity or professional relevance. The best languages to learn are the ones that you think your child can most easily learn. The ability to learn a new language will largely depend on the input available.
The input available in the target languages is crucial to a child's ability to learn a language. By input we mean, how often the child comes in contact with a certain language while also having a network within their family or peers to practice this language.
There are two metrics for measuring input. The quality of input and quantity of input, and need to be adequate for language learning. These depend on what language your family speaks, what sort of professional learning opportunities are available to you, and what language can you foster a learning environment around.
To put it simply, the language that the parents can speak, the TV shows, books, and professional education determine the best fit. The one that has a linear path through all of these materials will be the ideal choice. As for the learning environment, the child needs to practice their language skills, and the environment will be important. This environment can be the extended family, neighborhood, country of residence, etc.
When it comes to learning a new language, picking a foreign language based on its benefits for career and character development is a natural choice. There are a lot of fantastic languages with so much upside to learning them. There are professional benefits and can also lead to an elevated living experience. While many of these languages are a great choice, the real choice would be the one that your child can easily learn. Quality and quantity of input are largely the main factors on this journey of learning a language. In the end, the final choice is yours. Learning languages has upsides and any of the languages mentioned above make a great choice, as long as you can enrich the input in that language as well, there's nothing holding your child back.