What Are the Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language Early?

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    • Learning a foreign language early has many benefits. Children may find it easier to learn languages than adults for a number of reasons, including being better able to distinguish the sounds of a language. Young language learners are better able to acquire vocabulary and reading skills in their native language due to the skills they pick up learning a second language. Learning a language early will also help children as they grow older, giving them the skills to get ahead in an increasingly globalized society.

    Cognitive Development

    • Numerous studies have found that children who learn second languages at an early age receive a boost in their cognitive development. Language learning boosts children's critical thinking and problem solving skills, helping them outperform non-language learning peers on standardized tests such as the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (according to a 2007 study in Harwich, Massachusetts) and the SATs (according to a 2007 report by College Board). Language learning helps young students acquire skills that help them succeed in other subjects, such as mathematics, and helps increase their reading skills in their native language.

    Better Pronunciation

    • Language is made up of small units called phonemes, which each represent a particular sound. Phonemes may be assigned to particular letters (such as B) or clusters of letters (such as the vowel sound "ea" in "bear"). When children are very young, their ears are well attuned to the subtle differences between phonemes, since they must use this to understand the meaning of words. As a result, young language learners can better understand and imitate the pronunciation of foreign words, and develop more natural, native-sounding accents than older language learners.

    Broader Worldview

    • Learning a second language early can help children better comprehend the wide and diverse world around them. Understanding the culture and history of a language and its speakers goes along with understanding the language's vocabulary and grammar. Learning a language connected to their family heritage can help children develop interest in their cultural history and feel a greater sense of connection; learning any language can help them develop interest in another country or part of the world.

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