There are several different types of intelligence, including emotional intelligence. More and more, emotional intelligence is being revealed as the key to success in a variety of areas of life. Emotional intelligence is the ability to name and regulate your emotions and recognize the emotions of others. Being emotionally intelligent is a skill that requires being able to identify your own emotions and interpret other people’s emotions, and to manage emotions according to the situation at hand. When you think about it, it makes sense why people who are emotionally intelligent are more successful in life. They can read other people well, which makes it easier for them to make connections and establish beneficial relationships. Additionally, they can regulate their own emotions, making them better at handling stress and hardship. But can emotional intelligence impact your child’s ability to learn a second language? Absolutely.
Emotional Intelligence and Language Learning
Emotionally intelligent people have an easier time learning a new language. This makes sense when you consider these facts about emotionally intelligent people:
- Emotionally intelligent people are often more comfortable with themselves because they have a better understanding of their own internal world, making it easier for them to try learning a new language.
- They are better at dealing with emotions that naturally come as you learn a new language, such as fear, embarrassment, or shame.
- They are better at reading nonverbal communication, which they then connect to their new spoken language to understand what is being said.
- They are more open to being vulnerable and showing their true selves, opening themselves up to deeper conversation with others and enriching their language skills in the process.
- They are naturally better listeners, allowing them to pick up on new vocabulary and expressions readily.
- They are resilient, so they can cope with failure and move past it to continue learning.
- They are intrinsically motivated, making it easier for them to stick with their studies.
With all this in mind, it is clear why emotionally intelligent people would be more adept at learning a new language. Research supports this theory. One study found emotionally intelligent ESL students were more proficient in English because they could listen well, manage stress, and could put themselves in the context of the text more easily.
How Your Child Can Become More Emotionally Intelligent
Helping your child become more emotionally intelligent will help them not only in language learning, but in life. Fortunately, there are several ways you can help your child develop emotional intelligence.
Acknowledge your child’s perspective and empathize
It may be your instinct to go into problem-solving mode when your child is upset, but this is not necessarily helpful. Humans need to feel understood, so that should be your goal when your child is expressing an emotion. Empathize with your child, even if you think they are overreacting. Empathy makes our emotions easier to manage, so your child can better regulate their feelings with your help. Just hear your child’s perspective but remain firm in your rules. Feeling understood promotes the release of neurochemicals that can emotionally soothe humans. This strengthens the neural pathways of your child’s brain so when they are older, they can better soothe themselves. When you empathize with your child, they learn how to empathize with others. Just identifying an emotion your child is experiencing can help them to learn to regulate the many emotions that they are experiencing for the first time.
Allow expression without judgment
When you discourage your child from expressing a strong emotion such as anger or sadness, they develop shame around that emotion. This causes them to repress emotions, which is proven to cause damage to both our emotional and physical health. Expressing disapproval does not stop these emotions from happening, and when children repress emotions due to shame, the emotions come out in other ways, such as nightmares, violent outbursts, or nervous tics.
Instead, teach your child that it is normal and healthy to experience a range of emotions. Certain emotions aren’t “bad”; they’re a normal part of the human experience. When you accept your child’s emotions, you allow them to accept them as well, which in turn, allows them to accept themselves for who they really are.
At Crossing Borders Preschool, we promote emotional intelligence in an environment that immerses your child in the chosen language. Contact us today to schedule a tour of our language immersion preschool.