We’ve all heard that starting earlier is better when it comes to introducing language to our children. Why is that? Primarily the biggest benefit to starting earlier lies in the young child’s ability to develop native like pronunciation and speech structures, an ability that fades out around age 12 or 13. It doesn’t matter how many languages you are talking about, a young child will be able to distinguish between the different sounds of different languages and begin internalizing the different speech patterns related to the specific language.
However, it still takes a child many years to develop correct language skills and an extensive vocabulary. My six year old still occasionally says, “yo sabo” and my eight year still tends to indicate past tense with an “ed” ending on irregular verbs. Both are common child speech errors that they should eventually outgrow and correct.
Older children and teenagers, on the other hand, are more efficient language learners. By the time middle school student begin language courses, they have spent many years learning how to study, and this foundation prepares them to be able to learn languages in a more systematic way. Indeed, the language and literacy skills they have developed in one language can be transferred to another. This ...
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