Most parents know that learning a second language is beneficial for children. But studies show that the normal brain development of babies and toddlers makes this an ideal time for them to be exposed to another language. Here is why children who are often thought to be too young to learn a second language benefit from being exposed to an additional language.
Research published by Cornell shows that the immersion method of language learning is effective at any age, it is more effective with very young children. Children who learn a second language under the age of five use the same parts of their brain as to learn their native language. This means that speaking their second language feels more natural to them.
Other studies have demonstrated that children who learn a second language at a young age have better concentration and problem-solving skills.
Of course, this all needs to be understood within its wider context. Yes, learning a second language is excellent for young children, but so is reading in their first language, creative play, playing outside, cooking, and many other things that busy parents of preschoolers won’t have unlimited time to do with their children. The good news is that children benefit from even relatively little exposure to a second language.
Another study states that exposure to a second language for one hour a day in infancy could make it much easier for the child to become bilingual later on. Obviously, a baby is not going to speak the second language for that full hour, they only need to hear that language. While it is best if they hear the language from a person, listening to music or audio books will also help their language development.
Although a baby is obviously too young to be taking language classes, taking a few classes yourself will equip you to speak to your child about animals, colours, and their toys in the language you’d like them to learn. Doing this consistently will set them up for success when they do start taking language lessons, even if you never become fluent yourself.