Introducing Kids to Foreign Language

Jul 5, 2017 2:52:09 PM Catherine Sylva Teaching and Learning

For years, it has been thought that teaching a foreign language to preschool-age children would be futile. However, studies indicate that the best time for a child to learn another language is in the first three to four years of life, as language learning is a natural process during that period. Preschool years are vital years and "during this period and especially the first three years of life, the foundations for thinking, language, vision, attitudes, aptitudes, and other characteristics are laid down," says Ronald Kotulak, author of Inside the Brain.

Consequently, it would be a waste not to use a child's natural ability to learn during his or her most vital years, when learning a second language is as easy as learning the first. Since 50 percent of learning abilities are developed in the first years of life and another 30 percent by age eight, early childhood development programs have the opportunity to encourage early learning and development (Bloom, 2008). Moreover, studies suggest that at a cognitive and academic level, children learning an additional language are more creative, better at solving complex problems and usually score higher on standardized tests. 

In general, the younger someone’s mind is, the easier it is to learn a second -or even third- language. Experts also say that children who learn a language before their teenage years are more likely to achieve native-like pronunciation than older learners. Furthermore, research has found that kids have an innate ability to acquire the rules of any language – an ability that disappears by adulthood.

Introducing foreign languages to kids can be very beneficial in this globalized world. At a career-wise level, professionals able to communicate in a second or third language are always more desirable since they can embrace additional responsibilities and job opportunities. English is the International Business Language; however, foreign languages such as Chinese-Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic are increasingly becoming popular as business-skilled languages. Investing 30 minutes (twice a week) on teaching children a specific foreign language is more than enough for them to be fluent before their teenage years.

The World has become a small village where diversity and international exchange is always needed. Introducing kids to foreign languages would help shape brighter futures for them and the world overall.