I’ve been watching a lot of foreign movies with the subtitles on lately. I know, I know – I’m all about getting off the couch and being active, but hear me out. Watching movies with subtitles is a great way to learn a new language, especially for kids. So, if you’re going to turn Netflix on, make it worth your time!
A while back, I heard a podcast with Arnold Schwarzenegger where he discussed how he learned English. He watched a lot of movies and listened to a ton of music in English. By immersing himself in another language, he was able to become a fluent speaker. We too can learn a new language this way.
Most of our interpretation of the world around us comes from our vocabulary. So it makes sense that we might understand the world a little better if we had more words in us. When you speak more than one language, your perception of the world actually increases. Your empathy for other cultures grows.
As a parent, I think it’s important to teach our children a second language to succeed in our increasingly global world. Language exposes kids to a whole new culture, and it helps them have a better understanding of the world around them. Plus, it’s good for the brain! Research shows that learning a new language sharpens brain functions and increases creativity. Your brain expands when you learn another language.
The easiest way to help your kids pick up a second language is to start early. That’s when their brains are nimble, and they can easily start absorbing a new language. Many bilingual families do just this. They teach their children to speak two languages at the same time.
Of course, learning a language doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Immerse yourself and your kids in the culture of a new place as well! Watch movies, listen to music, grab some books in the foreign language you’re learning and go through them with the kids.
What language should you start learning?
Right now, my family is practicing Mandarin. It’s a great language to learn, and we’re having a lot of fun as we discover new words and their meanings. And, with close to 1.3 billion people around the world being native Mandarin speakers, learning the language will allow my kids, my wife and me to connect with many more individuals than we ever could have beforehand.
We’re not alone, either. Lots of entrepreneurs are seeing the benefits of learning Mandarin. When Mark Zuckerberg delivered a speech and answered questions in Beijing a few years ago, he did so entirely in Chinese. While his pronunciation and grammar weren’t perfect, he made an effort to connect with his audience, and it made all the difference.
Of course, learning any language is a huge advantage in today’s world. It will allow you and your children to interact with others at a deeper level, and to experience the world in an entirely new way.
Are you already bilingual? I’d love to hear how you learned your second (or third or fourth!) language, too! Please share your stories with me in the comments.