Friday, 8 November 2013

Learning the lingo - expat children and foreign languages

Los ninos? Les enfants? The children? Language barriers and how moving abroad will affect their children’s development and education are key concerns for expat parents, but there’s plenty of good news for families looking to take the plunge and introduce their children to a foreign tongue . The benefits of bilingualism, from improving problem solving to delaying dementia, are beginning to be understood, and, the younger you start learning, the better!

Image Source: GoodNCrazy

The latest figures from our 2013 Expat Explorer  survey even reveal that the languages traditionally perceived as the most difficult for non-native speakers, including Chinese and Thai, are actually among the most adopted by expat children. In 58% of cases, expat children living in Asia were found to be learning a new language, compared with an average of 44% globally. In Thailand this figure was a staggering 75%, with Taiwan and Hong Kong scoring 72% and 52% respectively.

If you want to support your child’s learning, there’s a wealth of electronic resources aimed at younger learners, with apps designed for mobile and tablet making learning easy and fun. However nothing beats the linguistic immersion living abroad will naturally bring. Why not try learning with your child and making language-learning part of everyday family life and play? 

Cool facts about bilingualism and language learning:
             At least 50% of the global population are bi- or pluri- lingual
             There are over 6,000 known languages
             Around 200 artificial languages are known to have been created since the 17th Century
             The Cambodian alphabet is the longest with 74 letters
             You can search Google in 124 languages (including Esperanto and Klingon)

If you want to find how your country fared for childhood language learning and education, check out the league tables in our new interactive tool. And let us know your language tips, for mums, dads and kids below or by tweeting @expatexplorer.

 [J1]Link to relevant finding on the expat explorer tool when live

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