When should your children start learning English? When they are five years-old? When they are 10 years-old? Perhaps when they are 15 years-old?
We know children who can speak many languages, including English, are more likely to succeed at school, at university, and to have successful careers. However, there has not been scientific evidence to prove at what age they need to start learning English – until now.
Research by experts in the USA has proved that children should start to learn English before they are 10 years-old. That is the best way to make sure they can speak English fluently, like a native-speaker by the time they are adults, the experts discovered.
It is OK for children to start learning English when they are older than 10. They can learn to speak a new language quickly – much more quickly than adults. However, it is best for children to start learning before they are 10 years-old because they will have enough time to learn English fluently and to speak like a native English-speaker when they are adults.
Humans’ ability to learn a new language only slows after we are 17 or 18 years-old.
We are never too old to start learning and it is always good to know a global language like English. We can start to study English when we are adults and learn quickly but it is harder for adults to learn compared to children.
The research by assistant professor Joshua Hartshorne, of Boston College, professor Joshua Tenenbaum, of MIT university, and professor Steven Pinker of Harvard University, was the largest ever. It studied 670,000 people and was published last year.
Before their research, people had thought the best time for children to start learning English was before they were 5 years-old.
Now we know it is best for children to start learning English before they are 10 years-old. Children who start to study English after they are 10 years-old will learn very quickly and will not slow down until they are 17 or 18 years-old. However, if they start to study English before they are 10 years-old, they will have time to learn to speak, read and write English perfectly.
Professor Tenenbaum said no one knows why children learn fastest before they are 17 or 18 years-old. The reason might be biological, or because when children start working, they are too busy to study a new language. Experts are continuing to research the data to find out why.
However, we do know it is never too late to start learning a new language and that knowing English will help you at work, at university or when you are travelling to different countries.
Reference: MIT News http://news.mit.edu/2018/cognitive-scientists-define-critical-period-learning-language-0501