Learning languages before the age of 6
- Intellectual education
Starting to learn languages at an early age is important and has many benefits. We’ll talk about the most important ones.
As parents we want our children to start speaking a language from an early age and we do so because we have heard hundreds of times that the earlier a language is introduced, the better, but why? What is this statement based on? It is based on 9 key ideas that we are going to develop:
- Their brain is like a sponge: children’s brains absorb all information with great capacity and assimilate it more easily, and they do so naturally. In infant education, the foundations are laid for later learning, which is why it is a good idea to teach languages at this stage. It must be taken into account that the plasticity of the brain (the capacity of the brain structure to modify itself through learning) is at its maximum in the first years of neurodevelopment, which is why at our school we offer a language immersion programme with a wide range of foreign languages.
- Multi-tasking children: early language learning makes it easier for children to be able to carry out different tasks at the same time with ease, that is, it encourages multi-tasking and this is because children make an effort to constantly choose the language at each moment, providing greater mental agility: “these children do not only learn to change lanes in the mastery of language, but also extend it to all their thinking. In other words, a multilingual child does better multitasking because he or she learns to jump from one problem to another much faster than learning only one language”, explains Mariano Sigman, PhD in Neuroscience and director of the Neuroscience Laboratory at Di Tella University and CONICET researcher. https://www.infobae.com/tendencias/2016/07/18/ninos-cual-es-el-efecto-en-el-cerebro-de-aprender-varios-idiomas/
- Learning other languages easily: “the child who learns a second language as a baby has a greater capacity for phonetic discrimination, a better mental structure and greater cognitive flexibility, as well as a better understanding of the arbitrariness of language. And all this influences the learning of another language”, as explained by Helen Doron’s experts in an interview published in Babies and More. https://www.bebesymas.com/desarrollo/bilinguismo-bebes-siete-beneficios-que-ninos-aprendan-segundo-idioma. Learning a second language at an early age makes it easier to learn other languages later on. At Agora Portals International School we offer a multilingual educational project, with language immersion beyond English, which allows the student to master the official language of their place of residence along with English, French, German or Chinese. We also complete these options with exchanges and cultural stays in different destinations.
- The ability to discern between the most relevant and the least: the Canadian psychologist Ellen Bialystok explained in an interview with The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/31/science/31conversation.html the benefits of bilingualism in children. During a research project, they carried out an exercise with enlightening results: “if children aged 5 and 6 were given language problems to solve, monolingual and bilingual children knew almost the same amount of language, but in one question, there was a difference. We asked all the children if a certain illogical sentence was grammatically correct: Apples grow on the nose. The monolingual children could not answer. They said that it was silly and they got stuck, but the bilingual children could point out that it was silly, but grammatically correct. That is to say, in the words of the expert herself: “the bilingual children showed a cognitive system with the capacity to pay attention to important information and ignore the less important”.
- Internationalisation: learning languages from a young age helps to provide a more international education and vision, as it facilitates a globalised education and promotes knowledge of the society and culture of the language being studied. In our centre we prepare students for an international future without limits or barriers.
- Benefits at a cognitive level: learning a language from an early age helps children to improve their memory, critical thinking, problem solving and management skills and gives them greater mental agility and flexibility.
- Helps in self-esteem: it is very important for us to prepare world citizens with all abilities to achieve academic and personal success. To achieve these goals, there is no doubt that self-esteem is fundamental. Learning a language other than one’s mother tongue is a challenge that involves work and perseverance, something that is very much in line with the main values at our school: dignity, respect and effort. “It is essential that we teach children to value the effort they are making to achieve what they struggle with, and not so much the result. Only in this way will they learn that effort is a value in itself”, explains the specialist in General Health Psychology and Educational Psychology Silvia Alava in a collaboration with the magazine Ser Padres. https://silviaalava.com/no-tiene-autoestima-colaboracion-con-la-revista-ser-padres/
It should also be noted that, by mastering another language, pupils feel more able to develop and communicate with other people and in different environments.
- Better language pronunciation: if children become familiar with another language from an early age, their pronunciation will be better.
- Better communication: learning another language at an early age makes it easier for children to communicate, as they can communicate with more people and have more tools to do so. “The greatest advantage of knowing foreign languages is being able to communicate with more people,” advocates Danijela Trenkic, a psycholinguist at York University. https://www.bbc.com/mundo/vert-fut-46197822
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