Undoubtedly, parents want the best for their children. And that’s why almost every up-to-date adult wants his/her kid to know English, a global language that opens countless opportunities regardless of your origin and place of residence.
Some parents are really obsessed with the idea to start teaching their kids as early as possible. But is it that good to make your kid a bilingual from the very birth? Won’t your baby face troubles in this case?
In this article, I shed light on the problem of learning English depending on the age. Let’s face it: there’s no exact answer to the question of when to start teaching English. However, I’ll consider two options along with their pros and cons. And since you know your child well, I’m sure you’ll be able to decide which of these options suits you.
#1 As Early as Possible
Supporters of this theory say that children from birth to 5-6 years easily learn any language. As kids learn their native language naturally, they can also master any foreign one.
- Unconscious learning. Kids learn English as a native language; that is, they just passively listen and then reproduce the words and phrases in their speech.
- The kid is not afraid to speak. At an early age, a child s less afraid to fail than an adult so that he/she boldly uses the studied language. Kids don’t have to overcome the language barrier because they feel themselves free and do not have complexes.
- Good memory. There is a theory that under-5 children’s language learning abilities are above average because they faster memorise words and phrases. They just repeat everything they hear!
- Clear speech. It is believed that the child is easier to learn the correct speech because the imitative abilities are at an advanced level.
- The need of immersion. A “natural” way of teaching is possible only if the child is among native speakers. That is, the kid must daily hear the English language from others. This is possible if he/she lives abroad, or at least one of the parents or a babysitter speaks English.
- The risk of mechanical studying. At the early age, the kid’s native skills are poor so that he/she pronounces sentence automatically, no really understanding the connection between words. Rote memorisation is far from being the most effective method of language learning.
- Lack of motivation. As the child learns while playing, you need to adjust the conditions accordingly. You’ll have to find a teacher who will be able to teach the child through play and instil him a love of language learning.
So, teaching the child from birth is the best choice if:
- You are living or going to live in an English-speaking country.
- At least one person in the family is a native speaker (or fluent in English).
- You know how to teach in an unobtrusive and interesting manner or find a tutor who knows how to do it
#2 At the Age of 7 or Later
Proponents of this view believe that foreign languages should be taught in conscious age, not to torment the kid with incomprehensible words. If the child is not in an English-speaking country and his/her parents do not speak English as often as the native language, there’s no point to start the teaching process earlier that at the age of 7.
- Children get used to learning. At the age of 7, most kids are already gets used to the regime as they go to school. Children become more organised and able to learn, do homework, listen to teachers, etc.
- Children are already fluent in their native language. School-age children have a wide vocabulary and a good command of their native languages. For example, the child understands that it is necessary to greet and introduce himself when meeting a stranger, etc. The words that the kid knows in his/her native language won’t confuse him in English.
- Correct spelling. 7-years-old kids won’t be confused with English spelling. Moreover, at this age, most children still have good phonemic abilities so that they can quickly and correctly pronounce the sounds of foreign speech.
- Children are easier to motivate. At this age, children acquire their first hobbies and interests, so you can offer your child an exciting “bonus” for which he will have to learn the language. Watch cartoons in the original, read interesting tales and stories, play online games in English!
- No difficulties in overcoming the language barrier. Children are still not afraid to make mistakes; they are willing to have a dialogue with the teacher and don’t too much care about the accent. That is, at the age of 7, you will have time to prevent the emergence of the language barrier.
- It is more difficult to remember new words. Compared to toddlers, children over 7 harder remember new words. On the other hand, at this age, the child learns everything consciously, that is, he understands the meaning of a particular word and how to use it.
- Less time for language learning. Schoolchildren are always overloaded with large amounts of information, which leaves too little time for learning foreign languages.
If you are fluent in English and have a great desire to teach your child at home, you can try to deal with it without the help from the side. Although I can’t recommend this way of learning as the best for sure (because only an experienced teacher knows how and in what sequence to teach the material to make the lessons really effective), you still can succeed! With the parents, the kid will feel oneself more comfortable than with anyone else.
Lucy Adams is a blogger from buzz essay (https://buzzessay.com/). She’s an aspiring author who never refuses to cover intriguing and burning topics, regardless of their origin. Education, literature, marketing, business, psychology – whatever – if you have something exciting to suggest, Lucy will bring it to life!