A new study reveals that children who know French, German, and Mandarin will best be set up for optimum success.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research and Opinion conducted the study in partnership with Heathrow airport, analyzing the role languages play in children’s lives and which are best to learn for gaining the best opportunities as an adult.
The research is based on a survey of 2,001 parents with children under the age of 18, plus an additional survey of more than 500 business leaders across the U.K.
Experts found that French, German, and Mandarin are the top three languages for children to learn if they’re looking for success in the next 10 years, and that these language skills could add up to 500 billion pounds to Britain’s economy by 2027.
“We believe that language learning is hugely beneficial for children’s development and it’s a real investment for the future; children who are exposed to different languages become more aware of different cultures, other people, and other points of view,” Antonella Sorace, professor of developmental linguistics and director of bilingualism matters at Edinburgh University, said in a statement. “They also tend to be better than monolinguals at multitasking and are often more advanced readers."
Additionally, 85 percent of parents said it’s crucial for children to speak a second language, though 45 percent of parents admitted that their children can’t speak another language.
Due to these high percentages, Heathrow has set up its Little Linguists initiative to inspire children to read by creating Mr. Adventure-themed flashcards that include simple phrases in French, German, and Mandarin.
The cards can be downloaded online or gathered in person at information desks across terminals, and the airport will also have language ambassadors on hand to help kids practice their new language skills.