WHAT ADVANTAGES DO CHILDREN WHO LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE HAVE?
• Children who have been exposed to a foreign language at an early age, often learn to read faster and with greater ease because they are able to recognize the relationship between letters and their sounds without the help of visual objects. Exposure to a second language clearly benefits children’s reading abilities.
American Psychological Association, May 1997
• Children who learn a second language typically have better problem solving abilities, better reasoning skills, and are more creative.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages & Linguistics
• Children with bilingual skills outperform similar monolingual children on both verbal and non-verbal tests of intelligence and typically, have higher SAT or standardized test scores.
U.S. Department of Education, & ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages & Linguistics
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO START LEARNING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE?
• The process of learning a language begins with how the brain is structured. The baby brain is born with millions and millions of brain cells. When brain cells communicate or connect over and over, the connections become “hard-wired.” The connections that are not used eventually die or fade away. This is why there are “critical periods” or “windows of opportunity” for learning languages. The critical period for foreign language is 0-10 years old. Newsweek, February 1996
• Children have the capacity to develop new language more naturally than adults. Between the ages of 0 and 10 years old, children’s brains are geared towards language development. The power to learn language is so great in the young child that it doesn’t seem to matter how many languages you throw their way. They can learn as many spoken languages as you allow them to hear systematically and regularly.
Learning Languages, Winter 1996
• If a child enters a preschool and is first exposed to a second language, he/she will be able to acquire the second language easily because he/she knows the rules of communication. In 3 to 7 months, the child will begin to understand the second language. In about 2 years, he/she will be able to carry on a fluent conversation.
Brain Development and Mastery of Language in the
• Studies have shown, and experience has supported, that children who learn a language before the onset of adolescence are much more likely to have a native-like pronunciation.
• Languages are for life and they can’t be taken away once you have learned them. By helping your child and continuing to help her, you’ll have a lasting contribution to her quality of life and understanding of others and their culture.
Hodder and Stoughton Educational, 1994
• Research shows that kids who studied a second language for two years raised their scores significantly in English and language arts, and slightly in math.
Nancy Rhodes, Director of Foreign Language Education at the Centre for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C. Redbook - September 2005
WHAT ARE THE MYTHS ABOUT EXPOSING CHILDREN TO FOREIGN LANGUAGES?
• MYTH: Learning a second language will interfere with the child’s ability to learn English. In most cases, learning another language enhances a child’s English ability. Children can learn much about English by learning the structure of other languages. Common vocabulary also helps children learn the meaning of new words in English. ERIC
• MYTH: Monolingual parents don’t know enough of the foreign language to teach their child. Perhaps the most damaging myth, parents do not have to be native speakers or know the foreign language to teach it to their children. There are many ways to increase children’s exposure to a foreign language; bilingual television, songs, bilingual preschool, books, movies, bilingual toys & computer games, and playgroups with children who speak the foreign language.
• MYTH: If parents are not native speakers, the children will pick up their mistakes with the language. As long as there is a good model of the language, the children will not develop an incorrect use of the language.