Learn new languages: the sooner the better
- June 22nd, 2010
- Posted in Learning Spanish
Nowadays, few would presume to question the importance of mastering foreign languages. This is even more essential when one’s native language isn’t among the most widely spoken.
In Spain we are lucky enough to speak one that is: Spanish, which is spoken by more people every day and in superb health as languages go. On the flip side, we also have some of the lowest marks in Europe in mastery of second and third languages (not to mention fourth and so on). Some quarters of the educational system seem to have at last noticed this serious fault and have begun to look for ways to mend it, which has brought to the fore a debate about what the appropriate age is for starting to learn foreign languages.
According to a recent study which several dozen children participated in, after the first year of life kids are already up to the challenge. Experts have attested that the starting age is paramount in determining whether the results will be better or worse and that, in any case, an appropriate teaching method must be used.
As you might expect, it is essential to consider the teaching method if we follow the advice and expose one-year-old children to more than one language. Specialists recommend encouraging proactiveness: allowing the children to develop their own appreciation for the learning process so that they cultivate it themselves, as forcing them into it can have extremely negative consequences. One mustn’t forget the life stage they are in, where there is no room for impositions; the learning must be natural and adapted to a child’s instincts, which, out of habit, directs their attention toward things that look or sound nice (thus, songs and illustrated books are useful for this task).
To close with a curious bit of information, the results of the study showed that girls scored consistently better than boys en each one of the variables examined.