Saturday, September 24, 2011

Parents Strive to Raise Global Kids

Guest Post by Nikki Sulon

Many parents across the U.S. are catching on to a new trend -- raising global kids. A recent Newsweek article titled “How to Raise a Global Kid” says parents are no longer worried about raising well-rounded kids, but global kids, to prepare them for the future in our increasingly global society.

But what does “global” mean exactly?

A Lango teacher leads story time.
According to the article, global means “achieving a comfort level with foreign people, foreign language and foreign lands.” However -- with only 37 percent of Americans holding a passport, fewer than 2 percent of America’s 18 million college students going abroad, and only 25 percent of public primary schools offering any language instruction at all -- we as a nation are far from global. On the other hand, more than 700,000 students from all over the world attended U.S. universities in 2009-2010, and 200 million Chinese schoolchildren are currently learning English.

While we all can’t vacation in another country, choose our neighbors based on cultural diversity, or afford to have our children study abroad during college, one area we can help our children become global is through the acquisition of foreign languages here in the U.S.

Studies have shown that children who learn a second language at a young age benefit from many short- and long-term benefits, including increased cognitive development, higher test scores, and the ability to pick up a native accent and quickly retain vocabulary in the new language.

Caption Below*
One program, Lango, teaches Spanish, Mandarin and French to kids ages 18 months to 11 years old in more than 70 communities across the U.S. Children are taught through Adventure Learning, which combines stories, music and movement, playacting, and game-playing.

“With today’s increasingly global society, there’s no question that our future world leaders need to be multilingual and more culturally aware,” said Michael Fee, founder of Lango, and a father of three. “Our globalized society demands a globalized workforce -- and that means being comfortable working with multiple cultures and speaking multiple languages.”

While teaching our children Spanish or Mandarin at a young age is no guarantee they will grow up to be future world leaders, not teaching them almost certainly means they will be unprepared to compete in a global workforce. And if the next generation of American workers is unable to compete with the next generation of international workers, what does that say about the U.S.’s ability to compete overall?

“Not training our kids to be able to work and live in an international environment is like leaving them illiterate,” says David Boren, the former U.S. senator and current president of the University of Oklahoma.

*Photo Caption: A Lango teacher engages students with Miss L, one of Lango’s characters developed to engage students.


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