The Intellectual Benefits of Learning a Second Language

Topics: Second language, Linguistics, Language acquisition Pages: 5 (1868 words) Published: February 10, 2014
The human brain is truly an amazing thing, especially at birth. A developing child’s brain establishes trillions of connections between neurons, all from the things the child experiences, such as being held by its mother, being read a bed time story or being punished or scolded after doing something wrong. These connections even allow children to pick up the language that is being used by their parents. This stage of connections and learning is the best stage of development to teach children different languages. Not only will the children that are taught a foreign language have an extra skill at their disposal, it will be easier since they have little or no prior language learning. The most amazing part is that these children will be endowed with all kinds of intellectual benefits, both for use early and later in life. Foreign language instruction should be required from preschool through elementary school because of the easier lingual adaptability of children, the job opportunities, and the intellectual and personal benefits that learning another language endows. There are a multitude of benefits that can come from learning a foreign language, as well as implementing such classes in early schooling. However, there are drawbacks as well. One drawback is the ability of the learner to acquire the language: not everyone is going to be able learn easily, even if the child has the advantage of youth. The good thing about this drawback is that it can be remedied by hard work, as well as consulting and practicing with teachers, or even the family. The second drawback is how the language is taught. Students, especially children, are obviously going to make mistakes; that is a part of learning. Therefore, foreign language classes, at least in middle school and high school, should not focus particularly on grades, since the goal is to learn the language. Another drawback is time. Depending on when a child has started to learn a foreign language, there may be much more time spent helping the child learn not only the foreign language, but it’s native language, as well as other things. In addition, all this information may test the child’s patience, outside of school. Those who have children know that they love having fun. For most children, learning does not fit into that category, and could experience much more difficulty learning the language. The best thing to do in this situation is to spread everything out; children have all the time in the world. Some of these disadvantages might be discouraging, but the best thing to remember is that the work that is put into learning a foreign language will definitely pay off in the end. The ability of children to soak up information like a sponge makes learning a foreign language much easier for them compared to the extreme difficulty of learning a foreign language later in life. The Multnomah County Library website states that, "over the first year of a baby's life, its brain will double in size, and by age three its brain will be twice as active as an adult brain"("Brain Development,” Multnomah County Online). This is because the child's neurons are still developing, and very little language learning will have formed by this time. In other words, the child will have an easier time with foreign languages because all languages are foreign to it, at least for now. Early childhood education expert Pam Walker of Canon City, Colorado, agrees that children, while in school, seem to pick up foreign languages easier when taught or exposed to them (Walker). Helena Curtain, who is known nationally and internationally for her collaboration in support of foreign language teachers from Pre Kindergarten to the eighth grade, says that not only do children learn foreign languages easier, those that do learn are more likely to master and become fluent in the language than those who start...

Cited: "Brain Development." Multnomah County Library Online October 2009. Web. 11 Feb. 2010. .
Curtain, Helena. "Foreign Language Learning: An Early Start. ERIC Digest." ERIC Digest Online December 1990. Web. 11 Feb. 2010. .
"Foreign Languages: An Essential Core Experience." Tennessee Foreign Language Teaching Association Online November 2006. Web. Feb. 2010 .
Friere, Paulo. "The 'Banking ' Concept of Education." Ways of Reading. Ed. David Bartholomae and Anthony Petrosky. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2002. 259-270. Print.
Makingthedifference.org 2008. Making the Difference. Web. 11 Feb. 2010. .
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010. Occupation Outlook Handbook 2010-11. Web. 11 Feb. 2010. .
Walker, Pam. Personal interview. 11 February 2010.
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