How does learning a 2nd language affect child development?
The world has never in history been more interconnected than it is today, and learning a second language can provide a multitude of social and developmental benefits, especially if done so at an early age.
During childhood, the ability to learn languages is limitless because the brain is extraordinarily malleable and possesses an excellent capacity for neuroplasticity; which allows, among many things, the simultaneous learning of many languages. The cognitive benefits of learning a second language in childhood are numerous and include improvements to the information-retention processes, especially those related to paying sustained and divided attention. Moreover, a second language early in a child’s development positively impacts basic cognitive processes such as memory and recall; which are necessary for establishing even the most basic of social interactions.
However, unless your family already possesses a multilingual foundation, and your kid has the opportunity to immerse themselves in a second language regularly, it becomes quite challenging to impart this knowledge from home. Second languages are better learned in controlled environments with appropriate guidance and trained teachers, such as schools and childcare centres.
When is the best time for a child to begin learning a 2nd language?
According to most experts in the field, the best time to start your child’s second language education is birth. Children between the ages of 2 and 7 years old possess physical brain structures that are particularly primed for processing multiple languages.
Think of children as being like sponges because they are naturally able to absorb information and are able to quickly and almost effortlessly imitate sounds and practice word pronunciation.
Additionally, young children lack the two things that impede most grown adults from learning a second language with ease; that is prejudice and shame. Thus, it becomes essential to take advantage of childcare centres that are adequately prepared to offer second language education.
What benefits can be gained from a childcare service providing language education?
There are a couple of benefits to be gained from professional second-language education that needs to be mentioned.
The first is that bilingual children tend to develop a deep understanding of linguistic structure. In fact, in many cases, bilingual children develop a phonemic awareness that is often better than that of children who only speak one language.
Next, we find that children who become proficient in more than one language often develop literacy skills that surpass the average for their age. Multilingual children regularly enjoy accelerated progress in learning to read, and some evidence has also been presented that suggests that children who learn a second language at an early age develop enhanced problem-solving abilities; specifically concerning attention control and concept formation. What is truly striking is that these benefits persist across the years and are also able to confer a certain degree cognitive insurance against the eventual development of early onset dementia.
The result of childcare centres providing second language education is that children develop an enhanced awareness and a better integration of cognitive tools in the real world.