Your child’s early years are filled with more new sensations than at any other time during their lives. As they are building essential skills, and an understanding of the world around them, almost everything is a new experience for your child. You may be wondering, what is the best time to introduce a second language to your child’s life? While there is already so much else they are learning, will it be too much to introduce a second language, or is it the right time to add this to their learning?
According to the critical hypothesis theory, it is during this time, the first precious few years of their life, that your child has the ability to learn more easily, and retain information for the rest of their life. In fact, children are much more skilled at picking up a second language than adults.
Being able to fluently speak, read, and write two languages is a great benefit later on in life. You may even consistently speak two languages at home. If you are wondering whether or not it could be confusing for your small child to determine which phrases belong to each language, you may be surprised at how easily they are able to distinguish between languages. If you want your child to be able to speak two, or more, languages later on in their lives, the time to begin may be now!
How Children Learn Language
For children, language learning is natural. Children are born equipped with the ability to learn language, which happens in three basic stages. Stage one of learning language is learning sounds. Each language is comprised of sounds, called phonemes, which help to distinguish which language words and phrases belong to. These sounds will help children develop a familiarity with the language, whether it is one or two being spoken to them regularly.
The second stage of language learning is learning words. Once children are able to identify the sounds associated with a language, they start to recognize that the sounds have meaning and are associated with the people and things around them. For example, children will recognize that the sound of the word “mommy” refers to the woman who takes care of them.
The third stage of language learning is learning sentences. After being able to recognize sounds and words, children begin to put these words together in the correct order, in sentences that make sense to the rest of us. At this stage, children are also learning grammar and meaning.
Second Language Acquisition
Many times, second language acquisition occurs when a child who speaks a language other than English goes to school for the first time, where they are then surrounded by English-speaking peers, educators, and cues.
A second language, whether introduced at home or in a school setting, can be encouraged and learned quite easily, with a bit of structure and instruction. For example, the amount of opportunity to practice a second language is critical in learning. Additionally, a strong language model provided by parents and educators will dramatically help a child in developing their second language.
Learning Language at Childventures
At Childventures, we believe learning a language is an essential skill. Language is built into the curriculum for each program, at every level. The blended curriculum model at Childventures integrates three complementary teaching models, Montessori, High Scope, and Core Knowledge, to provide a unique and well-balanced approach to learning language.
Through the Montessori Method, children explore language through their own natural curiosity, and the need for freedom within limits. This method allows children to make choices on how to participate in their learning, including how they learn language. The High Scope Model encourages active learning, with students using their senses to experience new sights and sounds, as well as learning language and literacy through music and creative representations. The Core Knowledge Model emphasizes language development and conceptual knowledge in a logical, step-by-step manner. Literacy is encouraged through nursery rhymes, poems, fairy tales, and stories; allowing children to apply the words and sounds they have learned in a fun and interactive way.
Whether you decide to teach your child a second language at home, or with the help of educators, it would be a privilege to be a part of your child’s learning adventure. If you would like to learn more about how our blended curriculum integrates language development, please contact us to book a tour at any one of our four locations.