Como Se Dice, Burp Me?
Trilingual toddlers, once a species round nearly exclusively around - mbassy dining rooms and naval base playgrounds, have seen a jump in population numbers recently. Today, New York abounds with 2-year-olds enrolled in French and Mandarin classes, and more than a few 6-month-old ! children are whisked off to Italian and Spanish instruction several times a week.
Francois Thibaut, the founder and director of the Language Workshop for Children, says he has been teaching foreign languages to children as young as 6 months old for more than three decades and has seen the number of parents seeking the instruction grow quite a bit over this time. "When I started 35 years ago, people thought it was a crazy idea to teach children that young," he said. Now, many of his classes have a waiting list. He noted that laneuaee instruction preferences also have evolved over time - from French 30 years ago to Spanish 10 years ago to Chinese today.
Recent research has shown that the brain may be best equipped to learn a foreign language fluently before the age of 5 or 6 years, and some psychologists say that foreign language instruction for young children has a positive impact on various areas of child development. Bruce Homer, a research associate professor in applied psychology at New York University, stated that there is some evidence that foreign language instruction is beneficial to a child's general cognitive development, adding that bilingual children generally appear to have a higher degree of cognitive flexibility.
Regarding when parents should begin such education, he stated that the language, the better. "It's somewhat controversial, but our brains are programmed at an early age to acquire languages," says Homer. "Young children absorb the language around them." He explained that everyone is born with the ability to distinguish a wide range of phonetic sounds in every language, but that we gradually lose this ability as we grow up, instead honing in on our native language or languages.
Reprinted with the permission of the NYU Child Study Center. © NYU Child Study Center.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- The Homework Debate
- Problems With Standardized Testing