Research shows that learning a second language as a young child is very beneficial. Not only are there the benefits that they can speak more than one language but children who are bilingual can also learn new information faster and easier. In this blog post, we are looking at current research to make sure you know the benefits of learning a second language and what the best age is to introduce a new language.
Firstly, how does the brain structure help learning a second language? Learning a second language when you are younger is a lot easier than when people are older. This is because children’s brains are like sponges so they can absorb new information a lot easier. The unconsciously learn song lyrics, rhythms and melodies. Research has shown that the brain systems that specialise in learning new languages rapidly grow from around six years old until puberty. At around 15 years old this system stops growing and this is the point where it is harder to learn a new language. This is why languages are often taught in schools from a younger age so that it is easier for them to absorb the information. Looking at the brain structure as development as a child helps us gain a greater understanding as to why it is easier to learn languages as a child.
Also, when people are younger they have less complex thought and feelings. Children think and express themselves in a simpler way, so when they are learning a new language they aren´t overwhelmed by trying to communicate a complex thought. Instead, they learn the basic vocabulary and sentence structure then when they are older they can develop their understanding of the language further as they want to express themselves in a more complex way.
Next is the benefit of time. As adults we get very caught up in daily life, working, eating and socialising that we don´t have much spare time for more studying. As a child, you have more time to learn and grow. Often it is found that people read more when they are younger even if they are more simplistic books. Also if you think that on average it takes 15 years for a native speaker to get to a high level of communication in that language then if you start learning the language at a younger age then the more time you have on your side to improve the skill.
It has been shown that children who have learnt a second language are better at problem-solving and are often more creative thinkers. They are a lot better at multi-tasking and concentrating on certain tasks. This is because from a young age the brain is having a constant mental workout as they think through more than one language system to communicate. This back and forth processing means that in the future when they are required to do a more challenging task their brain has already ´practised´ this function. This means that they often find multi-tasking and problem solving a lot easier because indirectly they have already practised the skills. Also, there is a boost in creativity in bilingual children because they can be more flexible and original.
Another advantage is that it is often easier to connect with other cultures making them more open-minded and accepting of diversity. It has been said that people who speak more than one language often have more than one personality depending on what language they are using. Although this might not always be the case it does suggest that people have different insights depending on the languages they speak. This is important when experiencing new cultures and traditions because it can make people more open-minded and allow them to see things from a different perspective. This helps when living in such a diverse world. It means that it is easier to go travelling and meet new people.
One of the most obvious benefits is the advantage it provides when looking at employment. Having more than one language helps increase chances of getting a job especially if it is more international. Employees who can communicate across borders are very beneficial to companies so they like hiring people who have this ability.
Then further down the line, it has been proven that learning a second language can prevent and reduce the effect of age-related illnesses. Being bilingual can delay the onset of dementia and reduce how quickly it develops. This is said to be because being bilingual makes changes in the brain structure that are linked with resilience to the disease of Alzheimer´s as well as cognitive impairment.
These are just a few of the main advangates that learning a second language has. It is great for you mental wellbeing, cogntiive functions and ease to travel easily to other countries. If you want to give your children the best opportunity our company provides the service of having an English speaking babysitter. This is a great way to expose your children to the English language in a more natural environment rather than just in the school setting. Simply register for free today at canguroidiomas.es to start your childs jounrey to learning a second language.