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Advantages of Learning A Second Language at an Early Age

It is much simpler to learn a second language as a child.

Learning a second language at a young age has several advantages, one of which is that children learn languages faster and easier. They have more time to learn, less to learn, less inhibitions, and a brain that is more suited to learning languages. In other words, teaching your child a second language at a young age spares them from having to learn one as an adult.

1. The structure of the brain aids the learning of a second language.

Children are like sponges on a biological level. A child's brain is built to unconsciously absorb new knowledge. They do it in the same way that we learn music lyrics, rhythms, and melodies automatically as adults. Dr. Paul Thompson, a UCLA neurology professor, and his colleagues discovered that from the age of six till puberty, the brain systems specialised in learning new languages increase rapidly. Then, between the ages of 11 and 15, throughout puberty, these systems essentially shut down and stop growing.

2. Baby brains have unique abilities for acquiring a second language.

Patricia Kuhl explains how babies listen to the sounds around them and "take statistics" on the sounds they need to know, in her TED Talk. Before the age of ten to twelve months, newborns can distinguish between all sounds in all languages. Then, as a result of their language exposure, they begin to only discern between the language sounds that are required to establish meaning. The l and r sounds are not distinguished in the Japanese language. Before the age of ten months, Japanese babies can distinguish between these noises. They lose their ability to discern between 10 and 12 months of age.

3. Children have the benefit of time on their side.

Remember that understanding the texts you can read now took years of study and mandated reading. It requires at least 15 years of academic education to be able to converse in your native language the way you do now. Children have the benefit of time on their side. They can start small and simple and gradually work their way up to higher levels of cognition and communication. As second language learners, children have a significant advantage over adults.

4. Children have less tasks to complete than adults.

Another advantage of learning a second language at a young age is that children have a simpler thought process than adults. They speak in fewer words, employ simpler sentence patterns, and think in a more concrete manner. Because they don't have any abstract thoughts or sentiments, children learning a second language aren't overwhelmed by the challenge of articulating them in their second language. As these children grow into adults, they learn to communicate in both their first and second languages.


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