GIVE YOUR CHILD THE SKILL WITH THE BIGGEST ADVANTAGE
A senior executive at a global investment bank was asked. “What is the most important skill for today’s students to learn, so they are prepared to succeed in the new global economy? The executive replied “empathy” the ability to understand and respect different cultural points of view.
Just recently as I sat down with the parents of three young students ages 5, 7 and 10 to register their students in to my school the question was asked of me. Is my youngest one too early to start learning a language? This is a question that I have heard many times over. A closely related question I hear often is when should I enroll my student in a language and culture class?
These questions almost always bring back memories of my early school years. Attending the St. Andrew’s School in the Obrajes neighborhood of La Paz, Bolivia was a privilege not many children my age had. The school was a private exclusive school and now a fully accredited IB (international Baccaulaureate) school.
You see the St. Andrews School was a dual language school, Spanish and English and I was right in the middle of it. Thanks to my mother that was a teacher and was able to get me a scholarship to attend such a prestigious school.
I remember meeting the children of the Ambassador from the United States in Bolivia, and going to parties at the American Embassy in La Paz. I was also friends with two beautiful girls from Peru. They were the daughters of the Peruvian Ambassador to Bolivia. I tell this very personal story because there is one big message. The realization that growing up in a multicultural, multilingual environment will have a very positive effect for that child’s rest of her or his life.
I was exposed to a second language and to many other cultures at the age of 10. Unbeknownst to me I was being exposed to other cultures such as the one from Peru, the United States, Germany, Canada and Great Britain.
My early childhood experience in languages and cultures was compounded because at that time there were Papal Volunteers that came to Bolivia to teach. My science teacher was from Germany, the marching band director was from the Queens guard in London England, and my English teacher was a nun from Canada.
As you can see from the above, the answer to how young your child can start learning a language is “as young as is feasible and possible”
Because of my early learning of a second language and my experiences with other cultures, I have been able to learn 4 languages early in life, attend graduate school, work for the largest corporations in the world, travel, work and visit over 27 cities in the world and have raised two wonderful sons. I do not remember ever having to struggle to get a wellpaying position at a prestigious global company
I am able to have the “empathy”, understand, appreciate and respect other points of view and other cultures, and ways of thinking. I am a multicultural, multilingual global citizen. Your child, your student, your grandchild can also have the most crucial life skill, and you can start him or her as young as possible.
Your child can start in Kindergarten if possible such as the parents of the three students I interviewed. This family is blessed and they are privileged. The school in North Texas that the children will be attending is a dual language Spanish, English school. They will also be attending my private language school right here in Frisco Texas.
I have other examples of students that come to study Spanish from Dallas, Plano and Mckinney. I will save those examples for latter
My answer and my advice is, start your children in learning a second language and a second culture now, when they are going into kindergarten or soon thereafter. When you do, you will be giving your children the biggest advantage to get into a good university, to get the job or start the business that they dream of.
Copyright Prof. Carlos A. Roncal July 2016
World Language Schools www.world-languageschools.com 469-618-3215