teaching foreign languages at a young age
Thread poster: Ivan Petryshyn

Ivan Petryshyn
English to Italian
+ ...
May 13, 2009

it is evident that the younger the learner, the better the results.
but I have encountered a school where they teach foreign languages from the age of 2.
the question arises: is it crucial and desirable to teach foreign languages at such a young age, when the student's native language code is still shaky, not stable. won't it harm the future development of the child's brain? won't it deconstruct some specific brain functional links that later might cause some psycological or even psychiatric problems?
it would be so nice to know that the future generations of the nations will be not only wise but also healthy.
Ivan Petryshyn USA


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Agnieszka Hayward
Poland
Local time: 14:13
German to Polish
+ ...
The human brain seems to cope May 14, 2009

Ivan Petryshyn wrote:

won't it harm the future development of the child's brain? won't it deconstruct some specific brain functional links that later might cause some psycological or even psychiatric problems?


Most children from bilingual families seem to do just fine.


Regards,
Agnieszka


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Hengky Chiok  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:13
Member (2008)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
I don't see what to worry about. May 14, 2009

I grew up in a bilingual family and community, not counting dialects that we speak. My children were raised as bilinguals as well. Now are speak three languages and a lot of our friends are bi or trilinguals.

Personally I don't observe any problems at all. The only "problem" for people who listen to our conversation is they notice we will often use all three languages in one sentence when we talk among ourselves.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 14:13
English to Croatian
+ ...
( National ) Identity May 14, 2009

I've never heard of bilingualism causing mental-health issues.

However, it may be that you are trying to say that children ( and adults) relate their language to their culture and the way of thinking, and that's where some identity problems may occur perhaps, at some point, and only in some cases, of course.

The thing is that if you speak French, you must think like the French do. If you speak British English, you must think like they think, etc. It naturally may cause a certain duality in person's identity,. However, it can either enrich the person, or cause identity problems ( but only if the person is already unstable).


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Alicja Wota  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:13
English to Polish
That's what I think, too. May 14, 2009

I can't see any practical gain from teaching such young children. It's motivation and interest that play the biggest role in learning languages.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:13
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
not "teaching" as in grammar etc May 14, 2009

Ivan Petryshyn wrote:

I have encountered a school where they teach foreign languages from the age of 2.


Of course, they aren't going to be "taught" in the way that languages are often taught in school eg "I am; you are". They'll simply be playing with colour, sound, shapes etc, but the words used will be different. They'll just learn the new words as they learn about everything else they find around them.


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sara0613
Italy
Local time: 14:13
English to French
+ ...
My student was 2 when she began... May 14, 2009

Hi, I'm a teacher in a private school and three years ago I started teaching Esl to a 2year-old girl. She has developed a good level and now she has lesson with the mothertongue teacher. Wondeful experience...

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:13
English to German
+ ...
A question May 15, 2009

Why would anybody stuff their toddler into a school? Is this another super-mom / super-parent syndrome? I thought the best I ever heard was: Philosophy for preschoolers, from age 4, where the kiddos can discuss scientifically why the sky is blue. Have people lost their mind?

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Audrey Pate
Italy
Local time: 14:13
Italian to English
+ ...
not crucial but certainly desirable...as long as it is FUN! May 15, 2009

No. it's not crucial but I would think that it is desirable. Why not? Toddlers' brains are like sponges....they soak up everything thrown at them and as long as they are learning in a fun way I don't see what harm can be done.
My own children are bilingual and I have taught English to Italian 4-year olds who, I have to say, seemed to take to the language much more easily than older children. There is also another advantage of learning at such a young age...2-year olds are not bothered if they make a mistake...they are not embarrrassed if they say something obviously inaccurate, but are more likely to find their mistakes funny and so remember to correct themselves the next time!


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Ivan Petryshyn
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
re: May 15, 2009

Yes, that is true, but there's a difference in studying another language with a parent and quite a different one with a teacher: no one needs a mixture of two languages; no one really wants a kid to have problems later when it comes to writing and spelling; to be more patriotic, a kid would like to have more fun in his/her native college rather than in a foreign language, unless he/she is bilingual- there should BE a stable feeling of the Mother Toungue/Toungues.
Ivan Petryshyn USA


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Dan_Lambert_MBA
Germany
Local time: 14:13
English to German
+ ...
The Younger the Better Jul 22, 2009

Ivan Petryshyn wrote:

the question arises: is it crucial and desirable to teach foreign languages at such a young age, when the student's native language code is still shaky, not stable.
Ivan Petryshyn USA


Ivan,

My son spent the first 4 years of his life in the USA, speaking only German to his mother and only English to me. We are now in Germany and he learns English in kindergarten as well (I'm always shocked when he spits out a phrase that I KNOW he didn't learn at home).

I think that the earlier a child is exposed to the second language, the more likely he is to develop two separate and distinct native language codes. When you wait until you're older to learn a language, then you have to "deconstruct" or "modify" your language code.

I lived in Japan at the age of 18 and learning that language was fun and easy. I'm learning German as an adult and I find it to be extremely frustrating. I'm constantly trying to disassemble and rearrange "the code" to make it fit.

You mention the difference between bilingual kids and those just learning a different language in school. At that age, the kids aren't exactly analyzing the situation. They don't even realize that they are (or aren't) learning something. German schoolkids start learning English at age 12 and I would guess that they have more trouble with it than a preschooler.

Dan


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