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Should children learn second language from an early age?

07 October 2014 [13:30] - TODAY.AZ
By Amina Nazarli
Today, making a successful career is impossible without knowing a foreign language. In addition, knowledge of a foreign language helps you broaden your horizons. These are the main reasons behind today parents' efforts to teach their children foreign languages since the very childhood.
Some people say the sooner children start to learn a foreign language, the more progress they will make. But others think that the second language may take the place of the first language and it will be difficult for a child to develop it properly.
Many eminent psychologists and physiologists say that the ages from 2 to 9 years are perfect ages for learning language??. According to them, our brain mechanisms of speech are the most active and receptive during this period.
It might arise a question whether this is really the case as earlier a child starts learning a second language as better speaker he or she will become.
Psychologist, Shafa Ahmadova have studied the issue from different angles, adding that there no single opinion on this issue.
"It remains a topical issue in our society," she believes. "Parents put pressure on their children to learn Azerbaijani, Russian and English languages or even other languages from the early childhood. If parents speak in different languages at home, their children could distinguish the subtleties of each language. It will develop their thinking. This can encourage them to appreciate how big the world is and will open their mind to the world."
Generally speaking, learning foreign languages would be easier for bilinguals. Bilingual people think faster and are more flexible. Bilingualism is a powerful exercise for the brain, Ahmadova added.

Although children's minds are known for being like a sponge which absorb everything, the psychologist recommend us to give them enough time to acquire and fully understand one language before introducing another one. Otherwise, they might go through a confused time in which they won't actually know how to express themselves.
"Children are specialists in language acquisition up to nine years old. It is better to learn foreign languages after having mastered the native speech. In a period aged between 5 and 8 they learn native language consciously," she said.
Ahmadova warns that parents should be careful about their intentions to instill foreign language learning in their children, as every child has his/her own characteristic. "Parents should not force their child to learn foreign languages. But they can instill the love of learning languages in their children," she emphasized.
Furthermore, overloading is not recommended, because children have to enjoy their childhood.
Nevertheless, good command in foreign languages is an easy way to future success as it features a positive international acquisition for an individual. It boosts his/her self esteem, autonomy and confidence.


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