Why is it helpful for children to start adopting a foreign language at the earliest age?
When it comes to learning a second, third language at an early age, everyone seems to have a picture of a two-year-old kid in a classroom with a book learning. The parents were declared ambitious, and it is believed that the child must know the multiplication table by the age of five.
Speaking and learning more than one language has a positive effect on various things:
- ability to solve problems,
- a better understanding of arithmetic,
- the power of creative thinking and
- gives a breadth of understanding of the world around us.
Kids as young as two years old are like a little sponge – they absorb your voice, the stories, objects, and concepts that describe them become aware of the world around them, and love to use it. Research has shown that the baby’s brain develops most by the age of seven. Music, logical thinking, and other language stimulate the creation of extra synapses in the brain and at a later age can be very important for further school success. When there are no other disorders, the child can easily adopt two or more languages in parallel.
Children learn the language through three stages:
- Learning the rhythmic characteristics of language,
- Segmentation of words from fluent speech,
- Identification of the correct grammatical structure.
There are three general rhythmic classifications of language:
- Languages of accented syllables (English, German),
- Rhythmic languages (French, Spanish),
- Languages of short syllables (Japanese).
Learning is essential for correct segmentation, although younger children manage to separate words in fluent speech, it does not mean that they understand the meanings of those words. Each healthy baby is born with 100 billion brain cells, and each cell makes up to 20,000 connections. The development of these cells depends on whether the child lives in an enriched environment. The ability that young children have is to acquire knowledge as part of the natural process. When immersed in a language, they can learn quickly and easily if they play. Unlike adults, who lose that ability at some point in their lives, they can hardly learn verbs, but speaking naturally is much harder. So the key to learning fast and efficient languages is to become more like children.
Today’s rapid advancement in technology is the reason that children are increasingly exposed to the effects of cartoons or video games. While some words can be learned from cartoons, direct communication with another person – the root cause of language creation – lacks mutual understanding is lacking. The child needs contact, interaction with the people around him, encouragement, hugs, smiles in the eyes – this cannot be obtained from a cartoon.
Early childhood is the best time to learn a language. The ease of learning a foreign language decreases with age. Between birth and adolescence, the brain is vibrant to acquire language naturally. As the child approaches puberty, the nature of language learning and storage changes, becoming less flexible. Many experts believe that learning a language ten years ago allows children to speak correctly and fluently as an Indigenous person. Therefore, regardless of the fact that earlier children are introduced to a foreign language, they have a better chance of speaking knowledge. On the other hand, learning a language other than their mother tongue can develop a lifelong ability to communicate with others.
Source: Learning of foreign language in pre-school children: Evaluation methods in kindergarten’s enviroment
Foreign language learning during childhood, Babak Ghasemi, Masoud Hashemi