Parents invest in sending their kids to attend Mandarin class because many believe that it is an important language of trade that will benefit their children’s career opportunities in the future. Economist Albert Saiz finds that native English speaker graduates who speak a second language, on average, earn 2 per cent more than those who don’t. Different foreign languages attract different language bonus – the more in demand a foreign language is, the higher the language bonus.
Knowing the language of our major trade partners is an asset. Graduates with foreign language skills will greatly improve their career opportunities at home and overseas. They would also improve their academic opportunities by having a chance to study at overseas educational institutions, an excellent experience to broaden their horizon and enrich their resume. Graduates with international experience are valued by employers. It’s not just people who work in international trade or diplomatic services who would reap benefits from having foreign language skills. Jim Rogers, a successful businessman, urges people to learn at least one Asian language because it will give them a competitive advantage. He himself sent his children to learn Mandarin at an early age to future-proof them.
The benefits of learning Mandarin for kids do not just lie in future opportunities. Studies support that children who are bilinguals or multilinguals are academically ahead of their peers. Learning a second language helps improve children’s academic performance, especially in English and Mathematics. According to a research, languages such as Chinese expresses mathematical concepts more clearly and thus making it easier for small children to learn maths. Children who learn Mandarin are also reported to perform better in identifying musical pitch and hence may perform better than their peers in building musical skills. This is not a surprise since Chinese is a tonal language. Learning the language will naturally train children to be able to identify the different tones. In essence, all the skills children are gaining through the process of learning a foreign language can transfer meaningfully to other areas in life.
Children who learn a foreign language are also shown to have better problem solving skills, creativity, and multitasking skills. This is not a surprise since children are required to think in a different way while learning to speak a foreign language. This mental training delivers multiple cognitive advantages to young learners, in addition to having advanced cross-cultural skills and linguistic skills.