1It’s never too late to learn something new, but is there such thing as too early? Young children are like sponges. Their curiosity and capacity for new information are beyond amazing, which is why many parents try to use this to their children’s advantage at their earliest of age. The reason for this is that, although our little ones aren’t aware of this, we know how important it is to make sure that their future is a good one. We want them healthy, happy and, if possible, ahead of their competition somewhere down the road. One way to achieve this is by giving them the opportunity to learn a second language. In case this is something you want for your kid, here are some suggestions on when to start and how to do it.
When should they start learning?
There aren’t any clear rules you can follow when it comes to this one, but some general opinion is that starting early is most likely a good idea. This probably has to do with the fact that children can hear, recognize and create sounds while they’re still babies, so this is when they start learning their mother tongue. After learning the sounds, they start learning words, and eventually sentences. For most kids, all of this happens before the age of three or four. So, if you want your kid to learn another language, perhaps this is the best time to give them that chance. For them, it will feel like playing and they won’t really put any effort into learning a new language since they probably won’t be aware that you’re trying to teach them something. As mentioned above, their minds are like sponges, they just soak in knowledge without any exertion. Furthermore, if they are exposed to a second language early enough, they can actually acquire it rather than learn it, which means that they’ll do it subconsciously and naturally, without having to memorize any rules. Plus, this way they won’t make mistakes when speaking, or have an accent and will be able to pronounce words better.
How do you find them the best teacher?
This part is actually very easy if your family is bilingual, since this means that you can make your child bilingual as well without having to spend any money or really do any hard work. It’s as easy as talking to your child and other members of your family in the languages you want them to learn, with only one important rule – one family member should always speak one language when talking to the child, and another member should always use the other language. For instance, if one parent is Spanish, and the other one is German, they should each address their child in their own language. When they talk to each other, they can use any language they want, as long as they consistently talk to the child in the same language.
If your family isn’t bilingual, that’s fine, too. You should just find a school with language courses which are suitable for your child’s age. It’s essential to find teachers who have plenty of experience and who have a positive attitude towards working with young learners. You should pick schools that take pride in their study programs and their teachers’ expertise. One great example is the famous Monkey Tree English learning center, which focuses on students as young as two, but with great studying opportunities for older students as well. Teachers who are ready to tailor their lessons to fit your kid’s capabilities, interests and tempo are invaluable, so make sure your child gets the best possible opportunities to learn.
What can you do to help them further?
Above anything else, it’s your job to be the voice of encouragement for your kids, even when they still aren’t aware of it. Finding them a good teacher is one way to do it, but there are also some things you can do at home to help them learn their second language with more ease. Enabling them to hear the language is always useful, so find songs or TV channels in that language. Even better, if one of your relatives or neighbors, or your kid’s babysitter can speak the language, ask them to talk to your child in it. In addition, if you know the language and can pronounce it well, perhaps you can use flashcards and help your child memorize new words through play. However, it’s crucial not to push your child too hard or forcing them to do something they don’t really enjoy at the moment since that can throw them off and they can develop resistance towards learning the language in question. On the other hand, if they are allowed to take their time, they’ll probably love learning and will gladly continue to do so even when they’re older.
Each language we learn makes us smarter, more capable and it widens our horizons. So, if you can, let your child learn a new language as early as possible and always let them know how proud you are of them for their success and achievements.