If you have a son and find yourself thinking about how beneficial it would be for him to speak a second language fluently, it would be wise to expose him to a world language during his pre-school years or earlier because a multitude of studies show that school-aged boys will be at a disadvantage vis a vis their female counterparts by the time world languages are introduced in school.
I attended an extremely informative parent orientation at a NYC all-boy independent school a few years ago, in which the headmaster explained to the parents the many benefits of a single-gender education for boys. Girls, we were reminded, tend to produce words at an earlier age, have a larger vocabulary, and show a higher level of language complexity than boys beginning in early childhood. Subsequently, I have seen, first-hand, how in a coeducational class, the disparity between the two genders tends to cause boys to take a back seat, lag or show less enthusiasm than girls in such areas of language, writing, and foreign language.
In order for our sons to become fluent in a second language, we, as parents, must find the right language learning program for them during their toddler and pre-school years and ensure they have fun during the acquisition of the target language. It is important for them to develop a genuine interest in learning the target language and remain committed to becoming proficient in it. In two of my earlier blog posts: How to Choose a Language Program for Your Little One and Playtime and Game Night – Fun for All, I provide tips on how to select a quality language program and how to keep children interested in learning and speaking a second language over the years. The first step is finding a quality program that suits your child’s needs and interests. By doing so, you will be on your way to facilitating a lifelong interest in the study of languages.
Starting your son early in a quality program will most likely:
- allow him to develop near native pronunciation (which school-aged girls typically acquire very easily) without being self conscious about it,
- build his self esteem in his ability to communicate (which will become key during his school-age years)
- acquire a rich vocabulary by the time he starts learning the target language in school (which will boost his confidence)
- spark a genuine interest in the target language and culture (which will aid him in becoming a world citizen proficient in a second language)