Many adults think that starting foreign language education with young children is pushing them too hard. Those who think that teaching foreign languages in elementary school is too aggressive don’t realize that early childhood is actually the best time to master language skills.
While there are many subjects that young children are not equipped to master, language is not one of them. It’s actually much easier for young kids to learn foreign language skills that it is for adults or even teenagers. Years of language education research indicates that the earlier children are introduced to a foreign language, the more likely they are to become fluent speakers of the language.
When children are born, they don’t have language skills. They learn to speak their native languages by being around other people who are communicating with each other and with them. In essence, young children’s minds are naturally programmed from the time of birth to absorb language skills from their environments. This natural ability diminishes with time, and the peak time for language acquisition is actually between the ages of six months and six years.
Kids who are exposed to a second language when their minds are naturally tuned in to learning language skills have a very easy time mastering both vocabulary and pronunciation. While most adults would find it confusing to try to learn more than one language at a time, young children aren’t confused children to learn their native tongue and a second language simultaneously. They actually have a very easy time mastering vocabulary from multiple languages.
Children who learn a second language during their preschool or early elementary school years tend to remain open to language acquisition, and find it easy to master additional languages throughout their lifetimes. Those who aren’t exposed to multiple languages during their early years, however, often find it very difficult to master even a second language. Parents who want to ensure that their children have every opportunity to become multilingual are well served by exposing them to foreign language education during their preschool years.