Language Learning for Children Why and How
More and more, avenues for American children to learn a second language such as Spanish are becoming more accessible. And the economic benefit of learning a second language–one statistic states that workers who know a second language have 20% higher hourly wage than their mono linguistic counterparts–has put a renewed emphasis on childhood education to include a language learning component.
The benefits of starting a child on the path to learning a language is well-known. Before the age of 10 is ideal, or even before the age of five if possible. Research has shown that children are naturally acquiring language skills for the first eight years of their lives. They do this through imitation, repetition, songs, and games.
By the age of 12, a child will have lost the ability to hear and reproduce new sounds compared to when they were younger. This does not make language acquisition impossible; it simply becomes more difficult.
One of the most popular languages to learn is Spanish, and not just because it is the second-most spoken language in the world. It is also the official language of 21 different countries, including Spain, Argentina, and Mexico, which are known as destination tourist sites. It is considered a ‘romance’ language for its beauty.
There are many organizations that have been offering comprehensive Spanish curriculum to different schools and school systems across the country. Some organizations are even beginning to offer preschool spanish lessons. These lessons can include spanish story book sets and be built on later with a homeschool spanish curriculum or elementary spanish curriculum.
According to the Summer Institute of Linguistics, only 17% of the American population speaks a second language, while over 60% of the world’s children are bilingual. Preschool spanish lessons attempt to solve a major problem facing American students trying to learn a second language. U.S. students often wait until their last years in high school to learn a foreign language, giving them comparatively few years of study compared to countries that mandate a student starting to learn a language at the age of eight.
It has been shown that a child’s ability to pronounce unfamiliar sounds and learn unfamiliar grammar rules is highly enhanced before the age of six. Preschool spanish lessons, and preschool lessons for other languages, try to target this age to make the learning process for children as seamless and rewarding as possible.