Research tells us that learning a second language has many benefits and can significantly improve cognitive function. Young adults with two languages perform better in reading comprehension tests and have better concentration.
Learning a second language from a young age has further advantages. According to research from University of Washington, early childhood is the optimum time for kids to begin their second language learning if they are not raised in a bilingual family already.
There are many benefits of learning a second language at a young age. These include their;
- brain development being stimulated
- English literacy skills being significantly enhanced
- memory, concentration and numeracy skills improving
- and as is their overall performance at school.
Additionally, children prior to the age of approximately 12 years old are said to still be able to ‘naturally acquire’ language through exposure. This ability diminishes significantly with age.
Most schools offer formal language programs. Students of all ages are now able to access their schoolwork and language learning resources from home. This is comparable to language learning in the past. Parents of younger students are now also able to be part of their child’s language education, even without having the target language themselves.
There are also other opportunities for students to get further involved in language learning within the school and wider community. School-based learning opportunities may typically include pen pal programs, overseas excursions, or student exchanges. JCU encourages language learning with their Young Language Ambassadors programs and school holiday short courses.
Shixiang Chen is the Head of Languages at St Andrew’s Catholic College, Redlynch