Many parents introduce their children to a new language at an early age, and for good reason. Not only is learning a new language easier for young children, doing so can help boost academic performance later on.
Here are 10 reasons that support why children can learn new languages more quickly than adults:
- Children are more open to new things in general. While adults become firmly rooted in their one native tongue and are less receptive to change, kids can more easily absorb new ways of expressing themselves.
- Professor Toto, an award-winning language tool for kids aged 2 through 8, has demonstrated that young children learn languages readily and take to “words that make them happy,” in any language.
- For a child, one sound is no more natural than any other, so the very idea of a “foreign” language is itself foreign. This means there is no inherent distinction or barrier that would preclude their learning to speak it.
- Children are also less likely to speak the language with an accent, since whatever additional language(s) they learn will be just as natural as their so-called “native” tongue.
- According to many doctors and experts, the best time for children to learn a language is before the age of 13, and the earlier the better, as their greatest capacity to absorb information is during their earliest stages of development.
- On the Professor Toto website, Time Magazine is quoted as reporting: “The ability to learn a second language is highest between birth and the age of six then undergoes a steady and inexorable decline.”
- As the brain’s cortex is still in development during infancy, a baby’s ability to pick up on new sounds and words is much easier than after the age of one. Since these words and sounds are all stored in the same brain map, as it were, the baby makes no distinction between natural and foreign.
- After the age of 10, learning new words becomes even harder, and a child’s native language becomes more dominant, to the point that the brain is in effect trained to ignore foreign sounds in favor of what it now perceives as its mother tongue.
- Children are, of course, less distracted by other needs or concerns during the process of learning a new language. Adults, in contrast, have to budget their time and focus their attention away from other things in order to learn.
- According to Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at MIT: “It does appear that young children have a much richer capacity to develop and to acquire many languages simultaneously than adults have.”