Every language a person speaks presents a new window of opportunity to thrive and succeed in life. Most of us are well aware of this fact, which is why so many parents nowadays want their children to get both a social and an academic advantage by learning a new language. However, parents are often unsure of the best time to introduce a new language to a child, as well as the best way of teaching it successfully. Thankfully, listed below are some helpful answers to these common dilemmas:
How early should they start learning?
The opinions on this subject significantly vary, but if you could draw one conclusion, it would be to start as early as possible. However, when children are still babies, their mind is being constructed and structured every day in order to be able to understand the stimulus and the overwhelming information they get from their surroundings. That is why it might be best to wait until your child is at least 3 years old, in order to avoid confusion and overstimulation.
It is a well-known fact that children who learn a foreign language before their teenage years are more likely to acquire the grammatical rules of any language and achieve a native-like pronunciation. But even if their minds are truly like sponges that absorb everything, it is still best to give them enough time to fully acquire and understand one language before introducing them to another one. Otherwise, they might end up confusing the languages and go through a phase in which they don’t know how to properly express themselves.
Where and how can they learn?
If you live in a bilingual family, then you are in luck, as the best way for a child to master a second language is to constantly be around people who speak it fluently. In order to help your child acquire the language completely, instead of just fragments of it, try the ‘one person, one language’ method where one adult only communicates with the child in one language, and another adult in the other language. There might be some confusion in the beginning and your child might jumble up the word order or use words from two languages in the same sentence, but don’t worry. They will quickly learn to separate the languages and they will grow up with two mother tongues.
However, if you’re not lucky enough to live in a bilingual family, the best option would be to find a great school with proficient teachers and a creative study program, such as the experienced Monkey Tree ESL. It is crucial to have fluent and passionate teachers who will create a fun learning environment and find the best tempo and method of working with a young child, teaching them more than simply a list of grammatical rules or new words and phrases. People like these dedicate all of their time and effort into providing children with the practical knowledge of a language, so that they can one day effectively use it in all aspects of their lives.
What can you do to help?
Even if you don’t speak the language your child is trying to learn, there are still some ways you can help them master it. Firstly, you have to encourage your child to start learning a new language, and then help them stay interested and motivated to learn by finding them a great school or teacher. It is extremely important for your child ho hear people speak the foreign language as often as possible. So, if none of your family members speak the language, try finding it on the TV and playing it the background or even search the Internet for some songs, cartoons and kids’ TV shows in their target language, so they can be exposed to it even when they are at home. Finally, never push your child too hard, but rather let them take their time without any pressure, as that’s the only ways to ensure they are truly enjoying the process of learning a new language.
The more years a child commits to learning a new language and the more use of it they make, the more proficient they will be. So, make it a point to start as soon as possible and always be there to support your children in their efforts.