Early Childhood Education – The Best Time For Bilingual Learning
Traditionally a second language is taught beginning in middle school, or even high school. However research has shown that this teaching can begin at their child care facilities. Studies clearly demonstrate that the optimal period in a child’s life for multilingual education is at the early ages of 2 to 5, the exact same time they are learning their first language. Yes, it is possible to learn a second and third language later in life, but it is more difficult, because that neurological “window of opportunity” – when the brain is most malleable – has passed.
Actually according to Dr. Fred Genessee, Professor of Psychology at McGill University in Montreal, it’s just as easy for young children to learn two or three languages as it is for them to learn one. He’s not alone; educators throughout the world (in countries that often have two or even three official languages) have understood this for decades.
The brain is most flexible at this stage, making it easy for children to naturally learn a second language. Where adults must work through an established first language system, and go about learning grammar rules to learn a second language, children can learn more naturally. By absorbing sounds, structures, patterns and rules of a second language, they almost just mimic to learn.
The best way for a child to learn a second language is to be totally immersed in the environment, allowing them to take it in and mimic the language. While all parents can’t simply just take their children to a foreign country, by getting involved with your children you can come close to the same experience. Take them to a cultural festival in your area, or have your own at home!
Benefits That Last A Lifetime
Studies show that multilingual individuals use more of their brains than monolinguals and a heightened sense of creativity compared to those who are monolingual.
The cognitive benefits of this are great for your child too. Basic skills like problem solving skills, spatial relation skills, communication skills and flexible skills are more advantage as well. By getting involved and teaching your child a second language (maybe while you learn something new at the same time), can not only provide your child with skills for their present but for their future as well.
Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas
Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the network of Austin child care facilities belonging to the AdvancEd accredited family of Primrose child care schools. Primrose schools are located in 16 states throughout the U.S. and are dedicated to delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning curriculum throughout their preschools.
*This post is in no way endorsing Primrose Schools. I am not affiliated with Primrose in any way, I just thought the article was worth sharing.