As parents, it is not an easy task to decide which languages should our children be learning at a young age. There are several factors that we need to consider before deciding on a foreign language that would be most useful for them when they grow up.
With over 7000 known languages existing today, here are the important languages that children must learn to stay ahead of the curve.
Commonly Spoken Languages Around the World
If the foremost consideration was only the total number of people speaking a language then Chinese Mandarin (898 million), Spanish (437 million) and Arabic (295 million) would be top choices, other than English.
Just by pure statistics, the chances that these may create an advantageous opportunity to engage in conversation with another individual, is higher.
Languages Spoken in Emerging Economies
A recent report by Fortune magazine indicated that India, Indonesia and Malaysia seem to be the fastest growing economies in the world at present. Based on this statistic, Hindi, Indonesian and Malay would then become the top choice for parents when picking foreign languages.
In terms of improving business prospects this would be an ideal way of making a selection. It must be noted, however, that at the beginning of the millennium, Brazil, Russia, India and China were the four big investment countries, and that mood has swung in under 20 years.
Traveler Friendly Languages
English is the obvious top-of-the-list choice when traveling, with 106 different countries speaking the language. Other popular options based on the languages spoken in the highest number of countries are Arabic (57 countries), French (53 countries), and Spanish (31 countries).
Native Languages Spoken in Adopted Countries
For the most part, this may be a decision that is made for you, especially if your child attends a school offering second language electives. For example; students attending schools in the UAE, regardless of curriculum, must undertake a ministry-approved Arabic language elective from grades 1 to 10. This is owing to the fact that Arabic is the native language of the country, and is in place despite only 12% of the population being native speakers.
Your Own Native Language
Immigration and diaspora are phenomenons that have been experienced by everyone, either directly or indirectly. Most children of immigrant parents are taught their mother language at least to some extent, especially if the need to communicate with older generations exists. This is another case where there is often less decision-making involved in the language to be taught, and is based purely on a personal choice.
With how fast the power status of languages keeps changing, a foreign language elective for a child is ultimately a decision that is up to the parent to make. The good news is that with the rise in digital learning, language apps and other innovative approaches, opportunities have now increased for students to pick up languages whenever they desire.
There you have it! Some of the important languages that your children will be thankful for learning at a young age and appreciate you more as they grow up. Are there any other languages or influences that you would like to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below: