Why Teaching Your Kids a Foreign Language NOW is Vital For College Admissions

 

We all want the very best for our kids and it can be hard to work out exactly what we need to do to literally give our kids the world. But there are some key things that we can't ignore that will literally give our kids an advantage when it not only comes to their work opportunities but also their college applications. 

Today I'm sharing some incredible insights from Dr Gena Lester who is a College Admissions Expert.

She is sharing a unique insight when it comes to college admissions and what you need to do NOW to give your kids some significant advantages when it comes to helping them get entry into some of the top colleges across the US. 

To find out more about Dr Gena Lester and the work she does, head to educationprepcenters.com


Want a transcript of the full interview? See below to read further. 

Shannon - The Cultured Kid:

All right. I have somebody really special to share with you today. This is Dr. Gina Lester. I'm going to get her to share all about her expertise, but essentially she is a college admissions specialist. And I know you're probably thinking, why are we talking college? Well, the reason being is that she's gonna share some unique insights that you need to pay attention to right now when your child is young, particularly when it comes to foreign language and the importance that this plays now for your child's college future. So, Gina welcome. I, I would love you to introduce just a little bit of your background where you're at, what you're currently working on and just yeah, a little bit of your insights into this whole world of languages and college admissions.

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

Yes. so like you said, I'm Dr. Gina Lester. I am a college admissions expert. I have been working in the college space helping students navigate this process for over 25 years. So I have a little bit of experience. I've written two books and I'm a New York times bestselling author, as well as wall street journal. And I love, and I'm passionate about helping kids achieve their dreams. And you're absolutely right starting early. And if I could really just state that, that is probably the most important piece. If you're looking for your student to really go to a competitive school, be competitive, get scholarships, all of those things then being early in this process is going to be key.

Shannon - The Cultured Kid:

Okay. Becuase I think that there's a lot of things that parents feel like they have to do to try and tick the box, to prepare their child for the best opportunities, particularly when it comes to being able to get into college. And now I we've been chatting a little while just with regards to the importance of foreign languages and primarily because languages are best learned when a child is young. So those first five years are really important, but how does that play out when it comes to college admissions and the advantages that comes to actually getting into college?

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

Yeah. So, you know, when your student gets ready to apply to college, basically things from high school above is what will go on the resume, what basically counts but, and here's the big butt. We are now looking at a complete holistic review of students with test optional coming in from the SAT's ACT, COVID changed everything. 90% of our colleges now are coming from a holistic perspective. And part of that holistic perspective comes into that. They want to look at a student and know, is that, you know, what makes that student diverse? What makes that student unique? What makes that student stand out? You know, once they're in high school and so forth, they're looking at that foreign language piece. Are they able, did they take, you know, three years, minimum foreign language and some of these more Ivy league type schools are gonna want poor, but they're going to ask your student, you know, are they fluent?

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

Can they read, can they write can they speak in a, you know, more than one language? And so being able to talk about that. So even if it's something they've learned from that age of four or 5, 7, 8, 9, you know, even junior high, that's gonna translate onto that holistic part of the application process. So the reason that it is so key is that when they come in and ask for there's all these essay questions and they wanna know what is the, what is your, what activity have you been involved in? That's not required so this is something you can pull in and talk about. Your child can talk about it. And they look at it more, you know, even outside of the whole, just being able to speak right. And read it, but they wanna know, have you immersed your student in it? So imagine that you've like gone through the courses, you're speaking that language, and then you're able to go maybe visit that country, or find somebody in your area who speaks that language fluidly, and then you're able to emerge yourself in that, that person's life somehow. Yeah. so it all builds upon each other.

Shannon - The Cultured Kid:

Yeah. Which I find quite fascinating because the studies are showing that even bilingual adults, so people who have grown up kids who have learned the language they've grown up, they've been able to learn it, travel for example. And they're now in the workforce, employers are looking for people who do have that bilingual advantage because our world is a globalized world. So it's really interesting that you're actually seeing that this is not just a study that's actually showing in at the workforce, but it's really starting to be pulled down into those earlier years, which is why it's so much more important where we're starting even now at the, at the early ages with parents of preschool aged children, for example. Yeah,

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

Exactly.

Shannon - The Cultured Kid:

Yeah. Can I ask in terms of some of these other in terms of some of these other things that you can do as a parent, because I know that as a mum myself, I find it, it can be really overwhelming to, to choose those extracurricular activities. You could do music, we could be doing coding, we could be teaching our kids, you know, all of these extra sport op opportunities. Can you speak to why languages is a really key part, particularly when it comes to that, that college? Like why is there such a drive for that language cultural experience?

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

Basically because the language ties to the academics. So when you look at a student and they're trying to determine how is this student going to line up academically with our school? So why talk about that holistic piece of it? There's also the academic piece and they, your child's gotta get over that hurdle. And so if they're coming in and they, they can show, I've been taking, you know, I've been speaking this language, I've been learning this language and you've learned two or even three languages that makes you stand apart. They know that if you're gonna go into business, that you're gonna be able, like you said, to speak those languages and talk to people in the business world, because as soon as your student hits that, you know, freshman year in college now they're taking classes in their major and 90% of our majors, even, you know, you think about the music or theater arts. Those kids are singing in Latin and French and you know, they're doing plays in other languages. You know, my daughter is an actress and she is fluent in French. And she actually is in French today. So beautiful.

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

But she's been asked to audition for shows where she spoke complete, you know, she was able to speak French through the whole show. It was a French movie because she knew French. So, you know, we think, oh, well, this only translates into this small piece. Yeah. But in reality, when you're able to speak whatever that language is, you become more diverse. You're able to go in and not only get those better jobs, long term when you get out of college, but the colleges look at you in that you have more culture behind you. You are able academically to show, you're showing the success of your ability to learn and language translates into our history and into our sciences and so many different aspects that we don't even realize.

Shannon - The Cultured Kid:

Yeah. Can you do you have any stories of any of the students that you've worked with over the last few years in terms of their journey and how maybe languages has actually given them advantages over maybe some of their other peers?

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

Yeah. So you know, when the students come to me and, and it's always interesting, cuz it seems like it's one or two, you know, one or two ways it's I took my minimum three years requirement or two years requirement, or it is the fact that they're saying, oh, I am, you know, have multiple languages. And sometimes that comes from the fact that they're able to speak at, you know, they grew up in a home that was bilingual and that's, that's still a very positive thing, but when they're bringing it in and they've learned it and they're speaking language and they can click those boxes that's where I see the transition. So this year I worked with a student who really was looking at, going into business as her major. And then she also had a fair amount of credit. She had, was able to speak Spanish and it's something she had been doing since junior high.

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

So she was able to not only put that she was bilingual, but it opened the door for her as she went into college to get a double major she was doing international business and she was doing gonna do Spanish as a second language so that she could go out and mix the two of those together. She eventually would love to be you know, work as a diplomat or something to that effect. Yep. In another country. And so that foreign language piece gave her so much more that when the college was looking instead of saying, oh, this student's coming in and she's gonna have six years or seven years to get through, you know, whatever it's gonna take to get through two majors. She could get through it in a much shorter time. Wow. So it does. Yeah.

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

So it makes a difference in a lot of ways. Maybe your student doesn't wanna major in a second language, but by going in with all of these, you know, this ability they can go in and either transferring credits or they can clip out of it. So just imagine that if you're spending 50 or 60 or $70,000 a year for college and your child can go in and knock all the for, they can test out of all the foreign language that automatically moves those, those are credits. You do not have to pay for you pay $90 or something for them, which

Shannon - The Cultured Kid:

Is incredible. And, and I think that really does go to show, sorry, I interrupted you. I think it really does go to show that it, it, you know, the studies are there that shows that when you do learn a foreign language from a young age, the brain benefits of what actually happens, like your brain wires they run the cognitive benefits are amazing. Like the neural pathways, that's the word I'm looking for. They, they are triggered faster. There's a greater sense of creativity and problem solving and memory kids who do languages score higher on standardized tests. So the benefits are there, but it's really remarkable to hear it from your perspective, even from a college standpoint, that it not only you've got those brain benefits, but it's actually physically fast tracking your college experience. And this girl potentially saved maybe a hundreds of thousands of dollars because she had that Spanish mixed into her degree, which is quite a significant saving as a parent.

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

Yeah. So basically what you're doing, if you're gonna major in a language you're going in, you're clapping out or transferring in credits, however that works. Yep. You know, but you're getting that out. So only taking those upper levels, you're start, you're not starting at the beginning. Yeah. Of, you know, and what I see happen is that parents will go in, they'll take, they'll wait they'll, their kids will take Spanish or something. Maybe once in junior high, then they'll take a couple of years in high school and then they're done. And then all of a sudden they're in college and they're not gonna be able to pass a club test or, you know, anything when they haven't had language for two years. Yeah. and like you said, it's all the te the colleges know there are benefits to a student who does have dual language and has not only put in the work who can show that they're fluent in it and that they have the ability to learn, but just the way they're going to address classes, they're gonna problem solve all of those type of things.

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

And, you know, you think about all the different languages you're learning Latin, you know, you're, you're going to have all that English based piece of that to go with you. So, you know, all of these languages are vitally important. and can add to the college admissions process without a doubt. And it may not translate into, oh, I'm putting this on my transcript that I did X, Y, Z in my resume. But when it says, talk about an activity that your student has done, that wasn't required, and your student is able to say, you know, start out their essay with some Lang you know, some sentence in a foreign language, and then go into, you know, this is something I've done my whole life. And, you know, I've fallen in love with this particular culture, because I've learned this language and, you know, not only can I write it, read it, you know all of those things, then it, that just right there shows a whole different side of you that brings diversity yeah. Onto the campus that other students aren't gonna be able to offer.

Shannon - The Cultured Kid:

Yeah. And I love that. I think that even just everything that you're talking about, it actually shows that there is a significant pathway and an advantage that really does come when parents can lay that foundation for languages from a really early age. And the idea is that they actually create this environment that they fall in love with it. So it's not this whole concept of, oh, I have to go to Spanish class, but it's a, oh my gosh, I love Spanish because it was easy to learn when I was young, because Mom made it really fun. And my brain made it really easy to learn. And my pronunciation is perfect because I, I speak like a native. And I just, to be honest, I know so many parents who like, we all want this the very best for our kids. And I think even just being able to hear, so, so clearly from you even just as to what that pathway can start to look like, even at these early age is really helpful. So thank you so much for sharing your insights, it's fascinating to learn. I feel like we gotta sneak peek into it now, before, you know, we have to wait 15 years or so. It just means that we've got time to actually get on that treadmill and start to move forward. So thank you for your time.

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

Yeah, you're welcome. And just like one last thought is, you know, from a mother's perspective you know, my, my kids are grown, but my daughter, my oldest daughter, Lauren, Japanese, she was very, you know, enamored and loved the culture, went to Japan as a young adult. You know, climb, climb, Mount Fuji.

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

And all, yes. All kinds of fun stuff. The other one's doing, you know, fell in love with the French and the French language and has done that. And so it's something that goes with them all the way through. It helped them in college. It made an impact. It made a difference. They both think very creatively, like you said, so, you know, the benefits are numerous and it's opened up doors for both of them career wise. So, you know, I can say that investing in it now will definitely save money in the long run and help them like achieve their dreams long term.

Shannon - The Cultured Kid:

Beautiful. Well, thank you Dr. Dr. Lester or Gina. I just, I'm so grateful for your wisdom and your input, and I know our community gonna be super grateful. So for anybody who wants to follow a little bit more of your journey, how can they follow along with it socials or through your website?

Dr Gena Lester - College Admissions Expert:

Yeah. So my website is educationprepcenters.com and it's simple like that. And then you can find me I'm on Instagram, Facebook, all of those things. And you can type in Dr. Gina or Dr. Gina Lester or education prep centers, and it comes up and I would love to, you know, feed into any of, you know, help I can to with your community.

Shannon - The Cultured Kid:

Beautiful. Well, thank you. I hope you have a wonderful day. And if you have had any questions about any of what we've talked about today, feel free to jump in pop a comment below, or even just shoot us a DM or an [email protected] We look forward to helping you help your kids take that next step along their language journey today.

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