Our country is a unique multicultural mix of immigrants, first generation immigrants, and American-born individuals whose ancestors first came to our country hundreds of years ago. This ever-present rich and wonderful diversity in our communities and daily lives enables us to learn about distinctly different cultures, customs, traditions, and languages without ever having to leave the continental United States.
Learning a second (or third language) is a rewarding endeavor and valuable skill that will enhance your professional, personal, and social skills and experiences throughout your entire life. Even if you choose never to travel across any of the great oceans, your ability to speak, read, and write in another language will enable you to be of service to others, and communicate with others throughout your life in immeasurable ways. English and Spanish are the two most popular languages spoken both in the USA and the world. The other three leading languages that consistently rank as part of the top five spoken in the entire world include Chinese, Arabic, and Hindustani.
While as a lifelong learner you can certainly learn a second language at any age by taking classes, hiring a tutor, watching videos, and listening to audios, the easiest time to pick up a second language is before the age of seven. Since this is undoubtedly impossible for you, the earlier you start the better your fluency will be. Though you can’t go back in time and ask your parents to help you learn a second language before you turn seven, you can vicariously travel back to the age by helping your own children to acquire language skills by earning a formal early childhood education degree.
In fact, here are three teaching principles that help inspire fluency:
Teaching a child foreign language words and then “recalling” them so that they are brought back to the child’s attention just in time before he/she forgets them is a very effective method. Children have a natural, innate love for repetition (perhaps explaining why they enjoy their favorite movie over and over).
Students of all ages learn easiest (and with the most enthusiasm) when they are having fun in the process. Immersing themselves 100% into the activity at hand - versus sitting still at a table being told something to learn - ensures they will glean the most from the experience.
The third ingredient that adds to the success of foreign language fluency is building a rich and useful vocabulary. Teaching words used on a regular basis throughout the learner’s day makes it profoundly easier to pick up a new language than being exposed to words the student rarely gets to speak or write.
As a teacher with an early childhood education degree, you will research and study the many different ways children learn best. Even if now at your current age you don’t fluently speak a second language (yet), you can still use the skills and knowledge you acquire through your degree to help young children be exposed to and learn aspects of a second language. The sooner young children are given the opportunity to learn a second language, the more quickly and easily they will become fluent in that language.