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Are Preschoolers Too Young to Learn Another Language?

by Joe Lawrence | September 1st, 2015 | Preschool

preschool boy and girl (400x400)Watching the development of our preschoolers is very rewarding. They have the capacity to learn so many new and interesting things once we learn to focus their little minds. In fact, some things that adults struggle with (like learning a foreign language) is quite simple for these crumb crunchers.

I am certainly not a genius, and will not be getting an invite from Mensa anytime in the near future, but I do successfully tap into my children’s intellect every now and then. For example, my daughter knew her alphabet before the age of three and could recite the Lord’s Prayer and most of the 23rd Psalm. My two and a half year old son has taken to counting and can get to 20 with very little help. It is so rewarding to be able to teach them these things and watch them pick it right up. They have the capacity, the problem is figuring out how to tap into it.

My son loves playing with cars and trucks. My wife and I use them to help him count. We simply count them in front of him and have him repeat. Most of the time we turn it into a game, and he takes it all in and then counts them back to us.

This is something that can be taken to a whole new level when working on a second language with a preschooler. Children up until the age of five learn differently than adults do. Everything is still new to them, and they are forming a mental foundation off of what they take in around them. Whereas adults learn by comparing new ideas, facts, and theories to things they already learned in the past. For example, when you go to a new job, you compare the new processes to the old and figure them out that way.

When adults learn a second language, they have to translate the new language from the native. Essentially, they think in the native language and then have to think of what to say in the new language and then articulate it. It is often cumbersome and difficult to keep up when in a conversation. Children who learn a second language have it as part of their foundation and the process is much faster.

There are many ways to get your child to learn. One is to ask a bilingual friend to only speak to your child in that language. Another is to seek out classes offered at a community center or local school. There are classes or lessons offered in most cities, if you are willing to look. The trick here is to ensure the person is a native speaker of that language. You want your child to learn the proper pronunciation from her. Incorporate these lessons into your daily life while eating dinner or reading a book together.

Although there are many other ideas you could also pursue, this is a great way to set the early foundation.

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