The new school year has already begun, and for many parents, it’s also an ideal time to assess their child’s extracurricular activities and determine whether there are any particular skills they might be interested in developing.
Language learning in particular is a skill that’s worth investing in, as it can lead to a range of cognitive benefits and has even been shown to foster greater empathy in children.
Research also shows that the earlier kids begin learning a second language, the easier it will be for them to acquire that new language and achieve native proficiency, which is why school language programs are so important.
Wondering what time of year your kids should begin their language learning? Here are a few things to keep in mind when organizing language classes for kids.
How does the time of year impact learning a second language?
Whether it’s Spanish for kids or another foreign language, there are a number of factors that may influence when your child should begin their learning.
Keep in mind that there is no ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ time of year for your child to learn a new language. It’s just important to be aware that each season brings its own set of benefits as well as a few potential downsides.
For example, in the fall, most kids will still be adjusting to going back to school after a long summer break, so depending on how they are coping with their workload at school, adding extracurricular activities like language learning might be too much. On the other hand, although kids will have more time to put towards language learning during their summer break, they will also have more distractions to deal with.
For this reason, when looking at language classes for kids, it’s always important to consider your child’s personality and learning preferences.
For instance, some kids will prefer school learning programs that allow them to have face-to-face interactions with their teachers and other kids. Similarly, some children may feel more comfortable taking a language course online so they can learn at their own pace.
As for how much time kids should devote to developing new skills outside of school, Stanford researchers say kids should spend no more than 4 hours per day, or 20 hours per week, on extracurricular activities. Keep in mind that this refers to all of a child’s extracurricular activities combined. So if, for example, your child is taking soccer, music or dance lessons alongside learning Spanish, it’s important to help them manage their schedule so they don’t feel overwhelmed.
Benefits of learning a new language for kids for each season
Need some help deciding when to get your child started with language learning? Let’s take a look at the benefits of beginning a new language learning program during each season.
Fall: September marks the start of a new school year, which means fall tends to be a popular time of year for kids to begin their language classes. Having your child’s language learning coincide with the start of school can make it easier for them to see how it will fit into their new schedule and fall into a comfortable routine.
Winter: During the winter months, kids will usually have less going on in terms of both school and after school activities. For this reason, having them begin their language learning during this period will ensure they have more time to focus on developing their new language skills.
Spring: By the time springtime rolls around, kids are usually feeling more comfortable in their routines of going to school. Springtime also tends to feel like a fresh start, so having them begin learning a foreign language is a great way to give them a new challenge and help keep their motivation levels high.
Summer: The summer break can also be a good time to encourage your children to learn a new language. Not only will they have more time to study the new language, but there will also be more opportunities to plan fun trips abroad. Traveling will give them a chance to practice the language they are learning and improve more quickly by listening, forming their own sentences and pronouncing new words.
Interested in Spanish for kids or any other language programs for kids and teens? Berlitz offers a range of language programs, from live online programs that include gaming and interactive activities, to in-school and after school programs, to one-on-one lessons with a Berlitz instructor. Find out more.