The Best Age for Kids to Learn a Second Language
If you want to give your kids the best future and many new education and business opportunities, you might want to sign them up for second language lessons. But, what is the right time to get them started in order to achieve the best results and make the learning easier? Here’s a simple answer to this pretty complicated question.
Difference between bilingual and fluent
In order to understand the language learning process, first you must see the difference between different skill levels. For instance, being bilingual and being fluent in a language isn’t the same. For someone who’s fluent, the second language might feel like second nature and they can often use it without thinking. But, there are times when they might need to think about certain things or occasionally refresh their knowledge on a certain subject. It’s similar to learning your multiplication table: you might know what 9×7 is, but sometimes you have to think about it.
Someone who’s bilingual will never forget how to use a certain construction, mix up masculine or feminine nouns or misuse articles. Being truly bilingual goes more than memorizing—it involves acquiring a different grammar structure, vocabulary and pronunciation and using them automatically.
Understand the science
If you want to have a bilingual child, you also need to understand the changes that come with the development of the brain in babies, children and teens. During the first month of your baby’s life, new synaptic connections start to pop up. Everything they hear, see, feel and touch is absorbed in memory instantly. From birth to six months of age, babies become capable of producing sounds used in any language in the world. But, your kid will learn only the sounds they hear around them.
From six to eight months, the baby’s brain has trillions of synaptic connections that only diminish with time. At age 10, about half of these connections will have died! Before the age of 12, the human brain is a sponge that’s constantly absorbing information. After this stage of development, the fundamental architecture of the brain is complete, the bases for thinking, language, aptitudes and attitudes are laid and the window for easy language acquisition is closed.
What is the verdict?
According to the explanation above, some believe that the best time to start teaching your child a second language is somewhere between 10 and 12 years of age. During this time, the child understands the lessons and can make easy and fast progress. However, they will not learn a language naturally as a baby or toddler would.
Therefore, the best time for second language lessons is essentially as soon as your kid gets born or at least as early as possible, usually between 3 and 6. Most schools start accepting kids between these ages. For instance, if you seek out a good education centre in Hong Kong you can find specialized English classes for kids between 3 and 6 years of age. These are completely appropriate for youngsters and they will learn a language while having so much fun. It might seem like a huge burden or it can seem like you’re confusing your baby with a second language, but it’s really not hard for kids at all to learn two languages at the same time.
Better late than never
Remember one thing: your child can still learn a language past this crucial window. Learning a second language brings with it many amazing benefits for the brain, so don’t hesitate to sign up your child for lessons whenever. They might never speak a second language on a native level, but learning a language is fun, especially when done with people.
While acquiring a language might be effortless for a baby, teens and adults need real and conscious effort and constant practice in order to become fluent. But, that doesn’t have to discourage you or your child! Language learning is useful no matter how old you are.