Learning a foreign language is a means for children to develop awareness of the world, increase learning capacity, develop language acquisition skills, form new connections to existing knowledge and develop skills for future success.
The early years are a formative time for the brain as thinking and learning patterns are established. Children younger than age ten have not formed strong opinions about their world and are eager to learn. The brain assimilates new information at a rapid rate in the early years and that makes elementary school age and younger ideal for beginning foreign language education. Here are some of the benefits of elementary school foreign language programs.
Time Allotment Advantages
Studies have shown that the more time spent on learning a foreign language, the more of the language is retained. Therefore, a daily program of foreign language education is better than weekly supplemental instruction. Elementary school, since it meets every day, can provide that environment for students. Higher proficiency can be developed at a faster rate in a day school program. Positive achievement also breeds increased motivation, which accelerates achievement. It's a positive cycle of advantages.
Learning Skills Enhanced
Introducing foreign language helps with communication and verbal expression. Expressive nuances, shifts in meaning, grammatical structure and memory and listening skills are all enhanced through learning foreign languages. The early years during which a child is learning the nuances of a native tongue are ideal for introducing foreign languages.
Comparing words, meanings and grammatical structures increases cognitive abilities in general, making learning other subjects such as science and mathematics easier. Learning a foreign language helps children build vocabulary, increase reading ability and creates new ways to be expressive. The learning skills developed extend far beyond the act of learning the language itself.
As students learn about other languages, they gain an understanding of the existence of other cultures and people. In the early years, children can develop a wider understanding of the world, which can make them better educated overall.
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