We all know that the love of learning is one of the most important assets someone can have. We do not know what skills our children will need in 2030 or 2040. But if they have learned to love to learn, they will be sure to acquire them.
Some schools are better than others at instilling that love of learning. It is not an easy task when all the learning is graded and the incentive to learn comes from having good grades. One risk is that a focus on pursuing grades can harm overall creativity. Do children, as they grow up, learn in school because they fundamentally love the process of learning new things, or because they want to please their parents with good grades? I guess it is somewhere in the middle for most kids.
As parents, it is our responsibility to instill and foster that love of learning over time. We believe that learning a second language can contribute to instill that love because of 4 main reasons:
- Learning a language is not about grades
- Learning a language is connected to the real world
- Learning a language teaches gradual improvement
- Learning a language helps build special relationships
Learning a second language is not about grades
When you spend time with your child learning a new language, the motivation is intrinsic. You learn to discover new words and expressions, to understand a new sentence, to be able to sing a song together. The joy is in the process, not in the grade that you get at a test.
Learning a language is connected to the real world
Learning a second language can be directly connected to everyday life for a child. Most children have to fill-out multiple-choice questionnaires in school, week-in and week-out. How many times in their adult life will they need that skill? When a child learns a second language, he or she can see the direct use watching a cartoon on TV in that language, meeting someone who speaks that language, or visiting another country.
Learning a language teaches gradual improvement
The love of learning develops when you see progress and when the learning enables you to do more things. When a task is way too complex, we do not feel like doing it. Learning a second language can always be tailored to the level of a child, so that a little bit of progress can be made, one step at a time. And these little progress will lead to achievements over time, from singing “happy birthday” in another language and feeling proud about it, to reading a comic book in a new language.
Learning a language helps build special relationships
Building relationships with others is a very powerful incentive for a child to learn a language. The love of learning becomes intertwined with the love of building relationships. This is why kids learn so fast a language when immersed in a new country. Or why the strategy of “One Parent One Language” works so well when raising kids with more than one language.
Do you have examples on how learning a new language developed you own love of learning?