What is the right age for second language lessons?
Although many studies prove the effectiveness of starting to learn a foreign language from pre-school age, many parents are skeptical, especially in private tutoring– ιδιαίτερα μαθήματα. They are afraid that the child may eventually confuse the two languages (mother tongue and foreign language) and face difficulties while acquiring them. But this is a misconception that many people have adopted. Let’s see why.
Awareness of the second language option is greater in older age groups as the choice of language and its acquisition is made consciously and in relation to specific factors like their interests or professional progress. This is why people believe it is better to start a language later on and not as children, as mainly their professional career might require them to learn a new language.
For younger students the awareness is expected to be lower as the second language approach comes in a more natural way, is used almost exclusively outside the family environment while at this stage of their life their professional future is not their priority.
When is it really a good age for your child to start learning a second language?
According to many teachers, the appropriate age for a child to come into first contact with a foreign language is preschool. Children in preschool can easily combine play with learning a foreign language. Anyway, at these ages there is no other way. The language is introduced experimentally through songs, play and communication, just about what happens in the daily life of a kindergartner.
The difficulties in second language acquisition
Although children are particularly sensitive to language hearing, the question remains whether, from a psychological and practical point of view, learning a foreign language from such an early age is really important. There are many children who find it difficult to express themselves effectively at a time when they are beginning to learn their mother tongue.
It is also not certain whether learning through playing really helps them, when much later they will be asked to learn the grammar and syntax of the foreign language. However, generally speaking, infancy and preschool age is a good time to start coming into contact with a foreign language and in no case should knowledge be “transferred” to the child of this age as a compulsory act.
Learning a second language during the first school years
After the second grade, children are properly prepared to start learning foreign languages. Children of this age are now comfortable with both writing and reading and have already acquired a general knowledge of their mother tongue. In addition, they have the ability to learn and hold on to ideas and concepts. Just what you should pay attention to is the approach.
Why, the purpose of teaching a foreign language at this age is not for the child to learn all the grammatical or syntactic rules, but to get in touch with the foreign culture and to love this language as well as their mother tongue. It is no joke that many children are giving up the courses of the foreign language just because they were not introduced to it in the right way!
How parents and teachers can help children with the acquisition of the second language
The child’s natural language intelligence needs parental support and stimuli to flourish and thrive. Parents who dedicate quality time to their children and talk to them will help them more. After all, the more knowledge a child has acquired in his mother tongue, which is the “tool” to pass to a second, the easier it is to understand and learn a foreign language.
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Overview for the right age to start second language courses
It is better to let your child show you what they like and when they are ready. As every child is different and grows at their own pace, forcing them is not going to bring the results you want. Give them space and time and they will flourish and grow learning their second language eventually.
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