Why It’s More Important Than Ever to Learn a Language at an Early Age

March 07, 2023

In our increasingly globalized world, speaking a second language is an invaluable skill. Speaking more than one language opens up exciting opportunities to travel with ease, make meaningful connections with new people, or to excel in any of the increasing number of internationally-oriented careers. But it is especially beneficial to learn a second language at an early age, and this is because of the science behind children’s brain development. 

While we may take our ability to converse in our native language for granted, any parent who has watched their child acquire language knows the process is nothing short of impressive. Children acquire their native language remarkably quickly and without much effort or formal teaching. Instead, they pick it up naturally through everyday interaction with their family, loved ones, and environment. Children’s brains work like a sponge, absorbing everything they hear and see. This means children have a natural advantage when it comes to acquiring a second language. Indeed, linguistic research suggests there may be a “critical period” in the brain’s capacity for languages (approximately from infancy until the teen years) during which language acquisition is much easier and more natural. After this critical period, changes in the developing brain mean that learning languages (while still very possible!) becomes more effortful, and achieving a native-like proficiency is less likely. The research consistently shows that the earlier a child learns a second language, the more likely they are to achieve native-like proficiency. A young child who begins a second language along with their native one can learn quickly, naturally, and experientially; they avoid the rote exercises, grammar headaches, and incessant Duolingo notifications that can plague older students of language.

Learning a second language at a young age is not only much easier— it also has myriad benefits for children beyond the foreign language skills. Researchers find that bilingual children often have better memories and attention spans and excel at conflict management and task switching. Bilingual children also gain a better awareness of word structure, phonology, and a larger vocabulary, and research suggests this could be why they tend to develop reading skills faster than their monolingual peers. Finally, learning another language as a child primes the brain to learn additional languages later on; studies show adults who grew up bilingual have an easier time picking up a third language than monolingual adults pick up a second.

The cognitive benefits are numerous, never mind the cultural; a child learning another language gains an entrée into another culture that can enrich them for a lifetime. Interested in these benefits for your child? The Language Workshop for Children offers virtual French classes for children as young as 2 years old. These classes are one-on-one and customized for each child’s needs and learning style. The online format allows us to engage young children with more frequent classes of shorter, age-appropriate intervals, and our teachers are highly skilled at creating exciting, interactive lessons tailored for the virtual classroom. Our classes allow your child to learn another language naturally, through experience, conversation, and play, similar to how they are learning their own native tongue. Your child’s developing brain has a natural, remarkable super power to acquire language— let’s seize this opportunity! Learn more here or fill out this form to get started!

Why Online Instruction Could be a Game Changer for Your Child
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