Many adults wish they had started learning a language as a child when their brains were more able to absorb new information. Scientific research has proven that when we are young our brains are programmed to picking up new languages more easily. Babies and children are like sponges and absorb everything they see and hear around them. Read on to see why the earlier we introduce children to a foreign language, the better.
From about 9 months old babies start to “tune in” to the language they are hear most often. No matter what country a child is born into, they will automatically pick up the language they hear. Learning remains at a high level until the age of 7, therefore if you can start to introduce your child to a new language before this age, they will learn another language more naturally and find it easier to go on to progress in the future.
Children who have parents who speak more than one language benefit from learning the two languages simultaneously in a natural environment, at home. Although this is now encouraged and seen as beneficial, this wasn’t always the case. In the 1970s it was thought that exposing children to two languages caused confusion and this delayed their development. Read
On the other hand, a UK government report this year found that high-performing European schools had started teaching foreign languages at a much earlier age than UK state schools. This led to the decision by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary to make foreign languages compulsory for all children aged 7 from 2014. Languages such as French, German, Spanish, Mandarin and Greek will be taught in primary schools as part of the National Curriculum. Read the article here.
In conclusion, it is clear that the earlier a child is exposed to a foreign language the better. A further benefit for children who start learning foreign languages early is that it also helps them improve their conversation skills and literacy in their first language.