Did you know that the language-learning sensitivity period is a unique neurolinguistic phase in which children are open to and enthusiastic about languages? Neurolinguistic research has demonstrated that a baby’s brain is inherently flexible, uniquely hard-wired to acquire languages naturally. Learning a second language at a young age is cognitively as easy as learning a first language. Young learners benefit from flexible ear and speech muscles that can hear the crucial differences between the sounds of a second language, as well as reproduce them with a near-native level. Functional play, stories, nursery rhymes and happy songs are a gentle way to lead children to new languages.
Learning foreign languages early on encourages flexible thinking and communication skills, helping children consider issues from multiple perspectives. Research shows multilinguals have enhanced memory, planning, and multi-tasking skills. Languages increase understanding and tolerance as well as interest for other cultures.
As children grow, the most intense phase of the sensitivity period begins to slowly fade. Researchers say that the optimum time window for adopting a foreign language is achieved by the pre-school age. The challenge, however, ss that the first foreign language (A1) begins at school, generally at grade 3. By this time, the sensitivity period will no longer help to accelerate learning, a genuine accent is difficult to achieve and studying may seem laborious. For this reason, it is smart to introduce foreign languages as early as possible, when learning is easy, fun and beneficial!
Learning languages gives the brain a lifelong edge: recent studies reveal that monolinguals exhibit symptoms of dementia up to four years earlier than multi/bilinguals!