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When to teach a second language?

Foreign language has long been taught in schools, but many parents wonder what the significance of such an education is. Research all across the board shows that learning a second language is important at earlier ages, but why? First of all, a language is easier for a person to learn before they reach the age of 10. Secondly, comprehension of a foreign language actually helps certain cognitive functions. Lastly, we are becoming a globalized world, and bilingual people are more competitive in many different job markets. For all these reasons and more, it is important to start teaching children a foreign language as soon as possible.

Scientists have discovered that teaching children a foreign language when they are young is wise because a child’s brain is more receptive to learning language. The reason behind this is called “brain plasticity”. Humans are programmed to learn more at a younger age, so their brains are much easier to fill with new information. A child can learn Swahili and Russian at the exact time and be more successful with both languages than a fluent Russian adult who was trying to learn Swahili as a second language. Research shows that the brain features the most plasticity before the age of 10.

In addition to the ease with which children can learn another language, teaching children a foreign language is smart because of the cognitive benefits that being bilingual provides. Research shows that bilingual children have better attention spans than monolingual children do. With so many ADD diagnoses popping up all over the world, anything that can help the attention span is a good thing. Bilingual children are also able to approach situations from multiple angles, and the mastery of more than one language gives them confidence and can improve social skills.

The world is becoming connected in many different ways, and the chance of facing a language barrier is much higher today than it was fifty years ago. As the economy becomes more globalized, many businesses are in need of translators or, even better, bilingual employees. Teaching children a foreign language will prepare them for life after school and make them more competitive in the corporate world, increasing their chances of being a success. Making sure that they learn the language at a young age prevents them from having to struggle with it when they are older.


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