Heathrow has revealed its new Little Linguists initiative, which aims to inspire children to learn new languages.
In partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research and Opinium, Heathrow has studied the role languages currently play in children’s lives and have identified the languages they should learn to set them up for maximum opportunities in adulthood.
The findings found French, German and Mandarin were the key three languages that should be learned, with language skills expected to add up to £500bn (US$624bn) to the economy by 2027.
Over 2,000 UK adults with children under 18 found that children are not making the most out of opportunities languages present them with. As much as 45% of parents have children who can’t speak a second language, 19% are not interested in learning new languages, and 10% said they find it too difficult.
Little Linguists was created with Antonella Sorace, founder of Bilingualism Matters and professor of developmental linguistics and Edinburgh University.
The airport has created packs of Mr Adventure-themed flashcards, available for families to download online or pick up for free at information desks across all terminals airside over the Easter holidays. The cards feature a series of simple phrases to introduce kids to French, German and Mandarin.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said, “Easter at Heathrow brings huge numbers of families together to discover exciting languages, cultures and experiences. We hope this gives them a fun and educational start to their holiday, and inspires our future generation of little global explorers.”
Antonella Sorace added, “This research demonstrates how important language learning is to the UK economy, and shows that many more doors are opened to people who learn a second language as children.
“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.
“They also tend to be better than monolinguals at ‘multitasking’ and often are more advanced readers. Bilingualism gives children so much more than just two languages so it’s fantastic to see that Heathrow is helping to get kids inspired about learning languages this Easter.”