Bilingualism is a valuable life skill that every child should acquire. You might have pondered the question: ‘Should I introduce my child to a foreign language at an early age, or when is the right time to begin their language journey?’ The truth is that numerous research papers have demonstrated that the earlier a child starts, the more effortlessly they can master a second language.
There’s no reason why you and your spouse can’t communicate with your child in two languages from birth. So don’t hesitate to get started now, as soon as you can!
5 Advantages of Learning a Second Language at an Early Age
1. Learn faster and easier
Children can absorb languages the best between the newborn stage and up to 6 years old, especially from birth to 3 years old.
During these periods of age, your kids learn and acquire a new language naturally as they would learn their first language through simply reading books, listening to and singing nursery rhymes, or talking with parents in the new language.
If you’d like to find out more about Benefits of Being Bilingual in particular, follow the link.
2. Accent Free
When they get around 18-24 months old, children would start to mimic most of the sounds they hear. Their sensitive ears help them realize any slight differences in tone and sound that they hear. Then they have the ability to pick up and copy those tricky sounds in the perfect way that makes their grown-ups surprised.
Take a look at this TED Talk where Patricia Kuhl discusses how newborns listen to the noises and sounds around them and “take statistics” on the sounds they need to know.
By starting early, there is more chance your child will acquire a native accent. As you can see, children who can speak a second or third language from a very young age can smoothly and confidently speak that language like a native speaker.
3. Give their brains a boost
Research shows that learning a second language is an excellent way of building up and flexing the child’s brain muscles. Children proficient in other languages show signs of enhanced problem-solving skills, creativity, and mental flexibility.
A bilingual child can get a high possibility to be better at planning, concentrating, and multitasking compared to a monolingual one of the same age. By teaching your child a second language at a young age, you are setting them up for a successful future.
4. Children think more simply than adults
Another benefit of learning a second language at an early age is that children think more simply than adults. However, they have more curiosity about all the new things around them. They want to explore the whole new world as much as they can.
The best thing here is young kids don’t worry about their mistakes as much as adults and even adolescents. All children make mistakes and learn from them. Keep playing, practicing, and having fun are the best ways for them in order to acquire a new language faster.
Furthermore, they learn in a natural and active way from the people around them such as parents, grandparents, careers, teachers, even sisters, and brothers. As we all know, during their language developmental milestones, young children learn fast through natural play and conversation with all people who are playing with and taking care of them.
They don’t know any difference between the two languages and just naturally listen, observe and learn from you as their best teacher at the early stage. For those reasons, if you want your child to grow up bilingual, start talking to them in both languages the moment they are born.
5. Much easier for you to teach them to speak your minority language
Just keep in mind that sometimes friends or people who connect to your kids in their schools can have a negative impact on their capacity to comprehend knowledge or their learning attitude.
Sometimes, their self-doubt about their learning ability has been developed when making mistakes in front of their friends. It probably leads to the fact that they are not interested or simply don’t want to speak a new language or your minority language anymore.
However, if you start to introduce and teach them at an early age, it will be much easier for you to create a strong connection between your kids and the minority language that you want them to speak to you. Young children usually learn fast and naturally engage with the language when they feel excited and want to learn more.
According to my experiences, I feel teaching languages to my multilingual daughter, Mila, during her pre-school period is much easier than when she does.
For those reasons, my hubby and I are trying our best to build a strong connection between Mila and us as well as Mila and the languages that we want to teach her. We have to make sure she always feels excited and interested in new languages and cultures by playing and having fun all the time from her newborn up to now!
However, it’s also possible to try and do it later…
Don’t panic if your children are past the baby and toddler years and do not yet speak fluently the second language that you simply value more highly to them.
The best time to show your child a second language is at the same time she/he is learning her/his first one. It means you wish to start out early from newborn to 3 years old.
However, you continue to roll in the hay when your child is between the ages of 4 and 6 with more effort and patience to assist them to feel interested in a replacement language.
Teaching your child to be bilingual is one of the foremost important gifts you’ll ever give them. In teaching your children, one important thing you ought to keep in mind is that they will need your patience, consistency, and full support in order to them to be successful.
Language Learning Resources that Your Kids Love!
Little Multilingual Minds has been creating many Fun Language Learning Resources for Bilingual Kids. You can access our Freebie Library and download all language resources for free here!
We understand that raising a bilingual child is not easy and we are here to support you and your children. Do you have questions about raising a bilingual baby?
Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear about your questions, concerns, and experiences. Let’s share your stories and we can encourage each other!
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