The Best Age to Learn a Second Language

...Six months is the age when babies are intent upon listening to, and reproducing sounds. They are creating new learning synapses, and although toddlers who start acquiring vocabulary for more than one language will confuse them now and then, they will master the syntax for both if heard regularly.

   Children who begin learning a language before the age of five are much more likely to have native-like pronunciation -- although some studies push this age up to preadolescence. Experts attribute greater difficulty to mastering a language after this time to the physiological changes that occur in the brain at puberty. (Less communication between the right and left hemispheres.)

   Should you forget about teaching your child a foreign language if you didn't start as six months? Not at all. Learning of a second language has tremendous educational benefits for children. Studies have shown that students who learn another language have improved overall school performance, increased creativity and are better at solving complex problems. In fact, students who averaged four or more years of foreign language study scored higher on the verbal section of the SAT than those who studied four or more years in any other subject.

   If your child's school does not offer second language classes, you might want to introduce the idea to the school administration or with your PTA. Foreign language learning is on the forefront of educational concerns right now. You'll probably find that your support for a second language program is welcomed.

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