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What is the Best Age to Learn a Second Language?

What is the Best Age to Learn a Second Language?

Many people have asked themselves this question.

Some people say it is best to start learning a second language as early as possible, while others think that the best age to start second language acquisition is puberty. What is the Best Age to Learn a Second Language?

In this article, we will discuss how young children can learn second languages and how they are different from older learners of second languages in their ability to understand new grammar rules and vocabulary words.

The Best Age to Start Learning a New Language

There isn't a perfect age, but it is recommended to teach kids when they are toddlers.

It is said that second language learners who are between ages three and six have an advantage over those older than six.

This is because the brain's neural system continues to develop until they reach adolescence, which makes it easier for kids at a young age to pick up on languages quickly compared to adults later in life.

One example of this was reported by Case Western Reserve University where scientists found that second-language learning among children activates different areas of the brain as compared to adults picking up second languages (Bialystok).

This helps explain why parents often find their toddlers speaking in full sentences before their first birthday or becoming verbally fluent with grandparents within months after moving into a new home.

However, even though neurological studies show advantages for second language learners at a young age, second-language learning as an adult is still possible.

One example of this was reported by the University College London who found that second language acquisition among adults activates similar areas in the brain as children (Bialystok).

This means you could potentially learn any second language even if you are older than six years old because your neural system will respond to new languages just like kids do.

However, most adults find it difficult to pick up on second languages due to lack of exposure and motivation for practicing regularly compared to younger students who can devote entire days or weeks focusing exclusively on their second language studies.

Language acquisition is easier when you're younger

Although second language acquisition is possible at any age, children are usually more successful learners than adults.

This difference can be attributed to the fact that younger people have better brain plasticity and therefore they're able to learn second languages much faster (Shaywitz 2003).

Moreover, children are naturally inclined towards learning new words, which makes second language development easier for them as well (Scovel 1969).

Furthermore, studies carried out with older populations suggest that late exposure does not seem to assist second language understanding as such literature suggests a critical period for second language acquisition (Lenneberg 1967).

Finally, young children are able to pick up on subtle pronunciation differences like stress and intonation patterns much faster than adults.

Learn Them at the Same Time from Birth

Children are more likely to speak two languages fluently if they learn them at the same time from birth.

This is because they are exposed to both languages simultaneously from their parents or caregivers.

If second language acquisition does not start early, some children can lose the first language (Lenneberg 1967).

However, if you want your child to be bilingual then it's a good idea to teach them multiple languages at home instead of sending them off for second-language classes during childhood when they're more likely to forget any prior knowledge.

Many people have seen the benefits of being bilingual and multilingual in today's society. So what is the best age to learn a second language?

The answer depends on who you ask but many studies suggest that young children are better learners than adults right now due mostly to neurological reasons as explained above.

Harder As They Get Older

If you're older than six, it's harder to pick up a second language because your brain has already developed its own pathways for processing that language, and second languages are more difficult to acquire once you're past the critical period.

However, second language learning is still possible for adults as shown by University College London who found that second language acquisition among adults activates similar areas in the brain as children (Bialystok).

Additionally, studies carried out with older populations suggest that late exposure does not seem to assist second language understanding and second-language literature suggests a critical period for second language acquisition (Lenneberg 1967).

It's Never Too Late

It's never too late for your kids to learn another language and there are many benefits associated with bilingualism.

In fact, second language acquisition among adults activates similar areas in the brain as children (Bialystok).

However, it's important to keep in mind that second-language literature suggests a critical period for second language acquisition and second languages are more difficult to acquire once you're past the critical period.

In other words, young kids should be encouraged to learn multiple languages at home until they reach school age while older students will find it far easier to pick up on new second languages by studying them within educational settings.

Nevertheless, there is no need for despair if your child does not seem interested or excited about learning additional languages because of their innate linguistic abilities; there is always another time that proves beneficial down the line.

Learning a second language can have lifelong benefits

Learning a second language can have lifelong benefits for your child.

Firstly, it's believed that second language acquisition among adults activates similar areas in the brain as children (Bialystok).

Secondly, second languages are more difficult to acquire once you're past the critical period but second-language literature suggests a critical period for second language acquisition.

Young kids should be encouraged to learn multiple languages at home until they reach school age and older students will find it far easier to pick up on new second languages by studying them within educational settings.

Find out what kind of education system your child's school offers

Before you embark on this journey, you could do well to find out what kind of education system your child's school offers.

Do they offer second-language classes?

Or would you have to join the local immersion program in order for them to learn a second language at an earlier age?

It is important that you understand how second languages are taught within their educational setting before making any assumptions on when it will be right or wrong for your kids to pick up on new second languages.

Find out if there are opportunities available locally and outside of school hours - whether through clubs, social media groups, television programs, etc.

More importantly, however, allow children to make decisions about their own second-language learning journey by allowing them some control over the process rather than forcing it upon them against their will as second language learning can be a daunting task for children.

Wrapping Up

The best age to learn a second language is when you are young.

When we’re younger, our brains have more plasticity and can easily absorb new skills like learning another language or musical instrument.

If you want your children to be able to speak two languages fluently, it might be time for them to start their first lessons at an early age so that they won't lose all the potential benefits of being bilingual as they get older!

Be sure to let us know which one of these languages you plan on learning!

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