Do you remember learning English? Probably Not. They won’t remember learning their next language either…
…after all, young children don’t even know it’s supposed to be hard. They are inherently curious, and their brains are wired to naturally absorb information.
In addition to the general benefits of learning a second language, experts agree that the earlier you can expose your child to a second language the bigger those benefits will be. Cognitive advantages, ease of learning, self esteem, and pronunciation are all areas where young children can take advantage of their ‘learning window.’ Children begin to lose their ability to learn a second language around the age of ten. (1)
Experts say that children who learn a language before their teenage years are more likely than older learners to achieve native-like pronunciation. Younger kids have an innate ability to acquire the rules of any language – an ability that disappears by adulthood.
“Puberty may be the time of many new beginnings – independence, physical changes, social experimentation – but it also marks the end of a child’s window of opportunity for easily acquiring additional languages.” (2)
“…the power to learn language is so great in the young child that it doesn’t seem to matter how many languages you seem to throw their way… They can learn as many spoken languages as you can allow them to hear systematically and regularly at the same time. Children just have this capacity. Their brain is just ripe to do this.” (3)
According to Middlebury Interactive Languages (TM), kids who knew two languages scored an averaged of 23-34 points higher on both math and language arts standardized tests than kids who spoke only one language.
If you want to read more on the subject, we suggest you check out this presentation by the National Network for Early Language Learning.
(1) Bickford, Carolyn. “Preparing Children to be Global Citizens: The Importance of Early Introduction to Foreign Languages.” Soleil. 2 January 2003
(2) 2003 Linda Foust, Parent’s Press
(3) Curtiss, Susan “Language Learning and the Developing Brain.” Learning Languages. Winter 1996