Children are generally more successful in foreign language studies than adults. Thus, it is better to learn languages in childhood.
Do you agree or disagree?
|Native language proves children learn quickly||Adults can still learn, if focused|
|Adults translate, don’t naturally learn|
|Children are in education, not work|
Most people who are fluently bi- or multilingual develope much of their second language during childhood. Whether learning from a parent, at school, or by living in a different culture, getting an early start in languages is a massive advantage. Because of this, it is fundamental that children are taught foreign languages.
Certainly adults can learn a second language, and many do. For those who are focused, or forced to because they have emigrated, it is possible to study and achieve some success. Yet adults are slow learners, and often translate their first language rather than learning the second language naturally. Comparing the language levels of immigrants against immigrants’ children shows that younger people are quicker at communicating in a new culture.
While adults try to change one language into another language in their heads, children are able to quickly pick up new words and structures because they have no existing structures. This is like writing on a new piece of paper, rather than erasing something already written. Even hearing a language as a child is helpful: a survey of people learning Korean showed people who had heard the language as a baby, but not spoken it, were quicker learning it later in life.
Another advantage children have is that they are already in an education environment. For adults, work and family responsibilities can become obstacles to learning new skills; children, on the other hand, are full-time students. Their entire timetable is built around learning, so using that time to gain another language is no problem.
In conclusion, it is far better and far easier to learn how to speak multiple languages in one’s formative years. The brain is free and flexible to learn a completely new skill, and is not stuck trying to compare one language to another language. Although children might not want to, parents and schools should definitely remember that childhood is the best time to teach a person how to communicate with people around the world.