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Catching them young

June 16, 2006

At what age can childen start learning a second language?

Hello again,
In recent years there has been a meteoric rise in teaching English to young learners. One report reveals that in Japan some parents expose their children to some form of English from the age of eighteen months. While it might be advantageous to children to start learning foreign languages...

... early, it also seems that many programs are ill-thought-out and may do the young learners little or no good.

Firstly, teachers cannot simply switch from teaching adults to youngsters without additional training. They need to understand how foreign language learning can be blended harmoniously with the overall development of the children. At very young ages, children need to develop positive attitudes towards learning itself in order to develop successful learning strategies through life. Teachers also need to have appropriate systems for assessment. On balance, the teaching of English will always be subordinate to the teacher’s role in nurturing the child’s overall ability to learn, to concentrate, to discover.

Then parents need to understand what sort of progress they can expect from their children and how it will be manifested. If they expect to have objective measurements of their child’s progress, they may be disappointed.

However, whatever the cautionary notes about introducing young learners’ courses in schools, it is clear that publishers, examinations’ boards and teachers’ associations have made great strides in this field and a plethora of advice, materials and discussion is now available to guide teachers working with youngsters.

What do you think about young learners?

Back soon,

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  1. Jasmina Says:

    Dear Brenda,
    My kids learn german,english and french, thay started on 4,6 year age.If someone want to learn something just have to do it.
    Regards Jasmina

  1. Dolores Says:

    Dear Brenda,

    The Japan Report is true. The younger the child's exposure to the language the faster they can comprehend and assimilate. In fact, my nephews and neices at grade 2 can already read english fast and write essays with grammatical savvy. My nephew is just 4 years old but can already speak and apply the english language the right way at the right time. Before they reached 1 year old they could already identify/dufferetiate different colors which is the most difficult to learn.

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