When Is My Child Ready to Start Learning a Foreign Language?

There’s no question about the fact that learning a second language is good for your child (and for you for what matters.) A growing body of evidence shows that children who study a foreign language get better grades than those that speak just one language. Moreover, they do better than their monolingual counterparts on standardized tests, both in math and oral exams.

Experts claim that learning a new language rewires the brain by forcing it to mimic the brain patterns of native speakers.

Improved cognitive and analytical abilities, better communication, an increased sense of self-worth are also among the many benefits of learning a foreign language.

By now, you’re convinced that teaching your child a foreign language is probably the best thing you can do for their development. But, when is the best time to learn a second language?

Let’s find out.

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Is Your Child Ready To Learn a New Language?

Children can start learning a new language even as early as two or three years old. Keep in mind that each child needs an adjustment period. While it’s true that they tend to accumulate knowledge faster and with much ease when they’re young, make sure you don’t force anything on them. Let them learn at their own pace and ensure they have fun. That is way, the process will become more enjoyable for your child and will set the grounds for future improvements.

Let’s imagine that you want your child to learn French. Instead of forcing him to go to classes, you can find a French tutor online.. Preply.com makes it easy for you to find tutors from all over the world and learn a new language remotely, via Skype.

How to Get Your Child to Start Learning?

There are two ways children learn a foreign language – simultaneously and sequentially. The former one applies to situations where children are exposed to two languages at the same time, such as families where the parents speak two different languages. In this case, they can tell the difference between the two languages as early as six months and build separate language systems in their brains.

Sequentially learners, on the other hand, are children that have initially been exposed to a single language and then start dabbling in a second one.

Here’s what you need to do to jumpstart the learning process.

  • Start Now

As I’ve mentioned above, children can start learning a new language as early as two years old. You might think that it’s impossible for them to understand the complexities of a different language when they can barely tell a full sentence in their native tongue, but you’d be wrong. At that age, kids aren’t only increasing their vocabularies but also learning how to recognize speech patterns. Children as young as three have the capacity to hear and reproduce sounds better than adults.

  • Teach One Word at a Time

If you think your kid is too young for classes, you can introduce them to a foreign language by teaching them the names of the most common objects. For instance, whenever he or she sees a car, you can tell him/her that the French word for car is “voiture.”

  • Manage Your Expectations

Don’t expect your child to learn how to speak a foreign language fluently from just hearing a few words, watching television or listening to songs. By introducing them to a second language as soon as possible, you are giving them the tools they need for learning how to speak it better later.

Bilingualism is extremely beneficial and essential as your child grows. Make sure to support their language development by carefully selecting their school and other academic environments, exposing them to new languages and helping them learn through fun, interactive games.

1 thought on “When Is My Child Ready to Start Learning a Foreign Language?”

  1. Great post! yes, we agree, you can’t start early enough with your children. Our 3 year old grand-daughter takes weekly online French lessons and loves it. And our 10 year old grandson plays our French gamesforlanguage games.
    Recent research has also shown that the foreign sounds infants hear stay in their memory, even if they learn another language and take up the first language only years later!


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