We all know that young babies and children are like sponges. After all, how else could they remember all those “adult” words we wish they wouldn’t repeat!
Because of this, most experts agree that the earlier a child is introduced to a second language, the better their chances of becoming fluent in it. Children who know a second language are also more likely to score higher grades in school and on standardized tests. Fluent knowledge of a second language will also help them down the road when they enter the job market. So the real question becomes: Why WOULDN’T you teach your child a second language?
We spoke with Michael Fee, managing director of Lango, a foreign language center for kids. With locations from California to New York, Lango teaches children ages 18 months to eight years new languages in full immersion classes through Adventure Learning©, an innovative approach that combines stories, music and movement, playacting and game-playing in an engaging, format that kids love. Read our Q&A with him below:
Do children learn languages easier at an earlier age?
Absolutely. Research has consistently shown that an “acquisition window” is open until about age eight. During this time kids are able to learn a language naturally, absorbing it without having to translate or otherwise work from the reference point of their first language. Their minds and their mouths haven’t been fully “biased” to the sounds of their first language.
What’s the best age to start them?
As early as possible! Ideally a child should start learning a second language while learning his or her first.
If English is going to be a child’s first language, could learning another one at the same time confuse them?
Research shows that while there may be a brief initial period of slower acquisition of the primary language, this soon disappears; later, it has been demonstrated, having learned that second language actually improves understanding and usage of the first.
What do you think are the most effective methods of teaching a young child a second language?
Exposure of any kind is great, but at Lango we’re firm believers that direct, interactive exposure to a native speaker in a positive, dynamic environment is by far the best way to learn
What tips do you have for parents who would like to try to teach their children a second language at home?
First, stick with it! Learning a second language is a lifelong endeavor that takes perseverance and patience. Second, try to expose your child to a native speaker in a positive, interactive environment as frequently as possible. Finally, supplement that experience with any and all exposure to credible resources. When it comes to learning a language, the more the better – as long as the resources used are of high quality.
To learn more about Lango and their classes, as well as their locations, please visit their website, www.langokids.com