The Best Age to Learn a New Language

It’s no secret that learning a second language offers children many benefits but when is the best age to get them started? Is it as soon as they can talk, or should you hold off until they are older and have mastered their mother tongue language first?

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According to Huali Xiong, Chinese Language and Bilingual School Principal at the Canadian International School, the younger the better, ideally before your child turns 10. Here are some of the main reasons why:

  1. No first language interference

Young children don’t have the same foundation of grammar and vocabulary as a teenager, and therefore are unlikely to search for a comparable word or structure in their mother tongue. This encourages them to learn the meaning of a word in its own context rather than translating the word from their first language to their second in their head.

  1. Less constraints

Unlike teenagers and adults, young children are often very willing and eager to try out new words and phrases as they’re not concerned about getting things wrong and making mistakes and feeling embarrassed. They can also learn at their own pace without any external pressures or deadlines.

  1. Better pronunciation

Children who learn a language when they are young have a much better chance of speaking with a native accent. Young learners are more skilled at mimicking and identifying subtle differences between sounds.

  1. Self-motivation and enjoyment

Young learners don’t have to deal with any self-motivation difficulties. When learning through fun and engaging activities like singing songs and playing games, they typically just want to jump in and participate and don’t even realise they are learning!

Kindergarten and Primary School language options at CIS
Kindergarten and Primary School students at the Canadian International School (CIS) can learn Chinese, French and Spanish (from Grade 1 onwards). The school also has a popular Chinese-English bilingual programme from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 and a French-English bilingual programme from Grade 2 to 4. The curriculum for both bilingual programmes is fully aligned to the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme.

To find out more information about CIS’ language options for Kindergarten and Primary School students contact their Admissions Team here or call them on +65 6734 8088.