Blended Learning vs. Traditional Learning: Five Key Differences What is Blending Learning? Blended learning is a blend of different learning modes and materials coordinated to help learners meet their own educational goals and objectives more effectively than learning in traditional environments. Blended learning combines the best aspects of online and instructor-led learning and is provided
Foreign Language Learning for Children: Necessity or Option?
Relocating to a new country is an opportunity that only a few families get to experience. Some do so even more than once. Although such a move can be complex and in some ways even frustrating, the professional and personal gains can be numerous. The relocation experience often leads to more personal flexibility as well as the professional benefits of increased competitiveness, especially for the moving professional who learns the language of the relocation country.
What about the accompanying family and children? Adults can often more easily see the opportunities in moving to a new location as an expatriate. They get to learn about a new culture and a new language, as well as new opportunities in their career. To many children, however, adjusting to a new environment can be challenging. In fact, children can be set to gain the most in this experience if they are encouraged and helped to seize the opportunity to learn a new language and culture.
Linguistically, younger children have the potential to develop near-native proficiency with pronunciation and intonation in a new language. They also develop a cognitive advantage over children who do not learn a subsequent language as second language acquisition helps to develop critical thinking skills, creativity, and elasticity of mind. In the case of the expatriate children, one of the greatest advantages is that they have the ability to mimic closely the native pronunciation and intonation of a new language through their interaction with teachers and peers. In addition, literacy skills that have been developed in the native language transfer to the learning of the new language. In the long-term, these children will be better suited to work in a global workplace due to their first-hand understanding of the language and culture of another country.
The Benefits of Learning a New Language
It is no secret that learning a new language requires a lot of time and dedication. However, many people would agree that the personal, professional and health benefits of learning a new language outweigh the necessary cost of time and effort.
A Sense of Achievement and Self-confidence
Learning a new language is an extremely satisfying achievement that anyone can be proud of. Mastering a new language has been shown to facilitate the development of other cognitive and social skills as well. With the development of linguistic, cognitive and social skills, your self-confidence is sure to increase as well.
Enhanced Travel Experiences
Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian philosopher, is quoted for saying “the limits of your language are the limits of your world.” Speaking a second language gives you the ability to communicate within a larger community both locally and abroad. Knowing more than one language can also greatly enhance your travel experiences since you will be able to communicate with more of the people you encounter around the world.
Improved Understanding of the World
The Myths of First and Second Language Acquisition
Myth #1: You can learn a second language the same way you learned your first language.
Human beings begin learning and processing their native language at or before birth. During the first few years of acquisition, children are being flooded with language at least 30% of their waking hours (according to the Multilingual Children’s Association). Through this comprehensible input, children learn the sounds, patterns, and meanings of their native language. The exposure and practice continue until children master the essentials around age six and beyond.
Second language learners are not usually given the same amount of time, practice or comprehensible input as children learning their native language. With only three to four hours of truly engaged contact on a weekly basis, second language learners cannot rely on intuition to develop linguistic knowledge (sounds, meanings, and grammar) of a language.
Myth #2: Children are better at learning languages than adults.
The general myth that adult learners can never become as fluent in a language as a child learning a language is based completely on the perceived value of native speaker accent. Prior to puberty, language function occurs throughout the entire brain allowing for greater change and development in phonetic production. However, at or around puberty, language function materializes to the left side of the brain, limiting the learner’s ability to create and distinguish new sounds.