It goes without saying that learning foreign languages has numerous advantages, the most obvious being its personal and professional benefits for people of all ages. Learning a language from an early age not only gives children a headstart but is known to have socio-neurological benefits as well. Most children have the capacity to learn several languages at the same time as we can see in multi-lingual societies and this far from affects their development. In fact, it is considered beneficial as it helps them to interact more openly and freely with people of other countries and so encourages a more prejudice-free society. Older children and teenagers are generally less motivated by exam-orientated education systems like ours and prefer more interactive and stimulating learning environments where language becomes a tool for real life situations in which they can learn to interact with others and develop more meaningful relationships with members of their own peer group.
From a very early age children should see that a richer, wider world exists beyond their own ‘backyard’. Learning a language gives them a wonderful opportunity to extend their horizons thus enabling them to experience how different the world is and how varied and diverse its peoples are. They begin to appreciate that there are other ways of believing and thinking, that what they have always thought to be true may not be the only way of leading their lives and which in turn will help them to develop as human beings. Only by breaking away from our established beliefs which are firmly entrenched in our education system can our children begin to learn and enjoy learning a language more effectively which in turn will ultimately benefit the society as a whole.