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Tips – Helping a Child Choose a Foreign Language to Study

Posted by Lisa LaGrou May 20, 2012 Education

altI recently approached a language tutor about tips in how to start a child on a foreign language (see article here). I received some positive feedback on the article and I wanted to explore some popular foreign languages parents and kids choose to learn to enhance their cultural knowledge and even learn for possible future job opportunities.

I spoke to Veronica Hall, owner of Keystone Interculutral Services in Rochester to find out more helpful tips on how to get children started in learning a foreign language and the many reasons behind the choices of selecting a particular language to learn. Here’s the interview…

Oakland County Moms: Do you ever encounter parents that approach you asking for the best language to learn for kids for future job opportunities? Do they look that far ahead or is it mostly for cultural purposes or ethnic background education?

Veronica Hall, Owner of Keystone Intercultural Services: Parents of young children have different reasons for their children to learn a language. A few of these parents ask which is the best language to learn, but most come to Keystone Intercultural Services with a pretty good idea of the language they want for their children. Here is a sample of their reasons:

  1. The parent’s previous experience with specific language, perhaps a language they took in high school that they would like their children to learn
  2. Have traveled to a foreign country and find that particular language intriguing or exotic
  3. Parents nowadays are more aware of globalization and the attached need for learning languages
  4. Parents who were exchange students themselves and want to introduce that language to their kids
  5. To better learn the culture and traditions of a particular language
  6. Expatriates may want their kids to continue learning the language they have already started to learn abroad.
  7. Parents might be of a particular cultural background and want their children to continue in the tradition of learning the language as well as the culture
  8. Some parents figure that the most important thing to do is to learn a language, no matter which one, just to develop the ability to learn languages so that later the child can choose his favorite one.

When it comes to parents of older children, it is different. They are more focused on:

  1. Choosing a  language that  best suits their children’s career needs but still their choices are, in a way, limited to the languages offered through their local schools, typically Spanish, German, French.  However more schools now are introducing Mandarin, Japanese and Portuguese.
  2. Some parents choose to have private tutors in the specific language desired so that their kids learn that particular language even though it isn’t offered in their local schools.
  3. Parents will often solicit a tutor in order to ensure that their child does well in a high school language class.
  4. Some parents are pleasantly surprised when their kids like the language they are taking and want them to continue learning through private lessons. Some of the reasons mentioned above (in the first part) might apply to parents of older children too.

In general, I would say that parents of very young children approach Keystone Intercultural Services to enroll their kids in a language classes with the desire for them to learn about that culture and traditions. Also parents may be of a specific ethnic background and want their children to follow that tradition, while parents of older children approach us with the idea of preparation for future or to pass the specific language class their kids are taken.

Oakland County Moms: Which foreign languages should kids learn so that may have the biggest future career impact?

Veronica Hall, Owner of Keystone Intercultural  Services: Which languages should kids learn? That would be a very hard question to answer. One never knows the language our kids will need in the future. However some popular languages, based on economic and industrial growth are German, Spanish, Mandarin, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic and Indian languages like Hindi. On the other hand, a person might just love a particular language for its sound or for other reasons. I say that learning any language is good, learning several languages is excellent. We all know that the earlier you start, the easier it is to establish brain paths that can expand and develop in the future.

About Keystone Intercultural Services LLC of Rochesteralt
Working with people of all ages to provide language instruction, cross-cultural training, translation, interpretation, high school language tutoring, immersion and English pronunciation classes. Start young to enhance your child’s educational skills while learning a lifelong skill that will help when competing in a global job market. Learn a second language or become ‘culturally fluent’ to improve your occupational skills in this international economy. Let your family history live on by learning its native language. website.

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