Children have a much easier time acquiring a language than older students.
But beyond the possibility of learning English, German or Chinese better and faster, these children also develop their cognitive abilities: their vocabulary improves in their own language, and they demonstrate better reasoning skills than those who speak only one language.
While vocabulary can be acquired at the same rate regardless of age, other aspects of language are directly related to the age at which it is learned
- Better pronunciation
Children and pre-adolescents have a better ability to register and replicate new sounds than older students. This facility, which would come from the need for every individual to learn to communicate, including in his or her own language, is undeniably an advantage for having a correct pronunciation later on: it is very difficult to "acquire" new sounds afterwards, because one loses this natural ability that children have to replicate what they hear without questioning.
- Easy to learn
Young children learn the language through games, activities and songs which are not assimilated into lessons and are better retained than traditional lessons. Naturally curious and interested, children also don't have as much to remember as other students, so they have a greater capacity to learn new things, as their minds are not as "cluttered" with knowledge.
- Less shyness
The notions of evaluation and comparison with other students are also not yet present, or at least not as developed as in their older counterparts: they therefore have a much better capacity to "take the plunge" and dare to try to express themselves without question. Since languages are learned mainly through oral expression, they generally progress much faster.
- A more open mind
Learning a language at an early age encourages a child or teenager to become interested in new cultures and to develop an open and critical mind. Multilingual children tend to be more curious than those who speak only one language, and their ability to speak an additional language or languages allows them to explore more media and communicate with more people, creating a virtuous circle
- An advantage for the future
A multilingual child will be better able to fit into today's multicultural society; not only because of the language but also because he or she will have met other learners and teachers from other cultures and backgrounds and will be open to the international scene.
If you are concerned about this, it has also been shown that learning a second language as a child does not have a negative impact on the mother tongue: on the contrary, in the long term, both languages are improved, especially through the acquisition of additional vocabulary. It is not necessary to be perfectly bilingual to enjoy the above-mentioned advantages: the simple process of learning is enough!
All the more reason to start learning an additional language as soon as possible, in a fun and encouraging environment!