One of my previous posts was entitled “Never too old!” where I discussed that you are never too old to start learning another language. I considered some of the great advantages to be had for older people learning another language.
The same premise stands strong for language learning in young children and infants. Many parents and some teachers believe that children should learn to speak fluently in their native language first, before introducing them to another language. What happens then with children of parents with different native languages?
There are many studies now which promote the concept that it is best to learn two or even more different languages as infants or young children.
So the message is: Start them off in another language while they are very young; even if the child cannot speak his/her native language fluently yet.
Advantages for children to start learning another language are manifold. There are too many advantages to list all of these in this short weblog post, but one of the major advantages is that it is not only easy, but natural, for infants to learn another language. Firstly, an infant’s brain is ‘wired up’ for language learning from birth. Communication is of paramount importance for survival and learning a native language is core to communication. Infants can assimilate and understand much more language than they make apparent. Introducing an infant to one or more languages, even before they have mastered their first language, is not only possible, but beneficial to their language learning.
They may seem to have confusion if they are very young, but they themselves won’t be confused. It will probably be more confusing for the adults in their envronment who don’t speak the languages involved. Their language will all make perfect sense to them. Later on, they will be able to separate the languages and use them both/all appropriately.
Do you agree?
Are you bi-lingual, tri-lingual? Your children? Have you had any experience of language learning in infants?
More next time…