Learning a foreign language can give you a leg up on the competition and open up a world of experiences to you, but what about for babies? Does teaching them a foreign language make a difference? Can they even learn a foreign language? While you may not see a lot of six-year-olds looking for a quick way to learn Russian to succeed in their foreign language programs, this doesn’t mean that babies aren’t capable of achieving fluency in multiple languages.
In fact, not only can babies start learning languages at a young age, but they can even learn them in the uterus. The benefits of exposing babies to a second or even a third language cannot be understated. Not only can they gain fluency in more than one language, but they can do it with a lot less effort than adults.
There have been plenty of studies proving that babies can learn multiple languages. The key, like with any language learner, comes from exposure. Babies minds are very plastic. Often described as “little genius” this exaggerated term highlights much of how a baby experiences and learns while preparing to live in the world.
When babies are born, their brains go into overdrive. They’re continually working at decoding and adapting to the world they live in. In fact, they’ve been doing this since they were inside their mother’s womb. Evidence points to babies being able to distinguish their mother’s accent and language from others. And as babies continue to develop, they can pick up on sounds that adult humans cannot hear. This makes them even more adept at learning foreign languages.
Another characteristic that makes babies “better” language learners than adults centers in their enthusiasm for learning. They aren’t bored by it. Through play, these curious individuals are rapidly tearing apart their world so they’re better adept at surviving in it. Babies also acquire language, they don’t “learn it” and as a result, they store language in a different part of their brains than adults do, making it easier for them to access.
This process continues until babies reach a certain age. By the first year, they’ve lost the ability to pick up on unique sounds. And as they continue to age, their ability to quickly develop their skills in a foreign language depreciates. Once a child reaches puberty, there’s a sharp drop in the natural ability to learn languages.
We know that babies can rapidly learn languages, and we know that any notion that learning multiple languages interferes with their cognitive functions has long been dispelled as a myth. But does it benefit babies to learn more than one language? The short answer is, yes. There is no denying that learning multiple languages will help prepare your child for a better life. Here are some of the benefits:
Teaching your child a foreign language is not difficult. If you’re a native speaker, then simply speaking to your child regularly in the target language will help provide them with the exposure needed to become bilingual. If you don’t, then there are programs, TV shows, and bilingual books available to expose your child to a foreign language. You can also hire a babysitter that speaks a different language to talk to your child during care.
Being patient and understanding are the two most essential qualities for helping a child become bilingual. Know that they will mix up words and that it may take them longer to master both languages, but overall, they will be much better off learning two languages.
As the benefits of learning a foreign language continue to mount, now, more than ever is the best time to introduce your child to a foreign language. And if you’re not fluent in a foreign language and are interested in how to study Russian or another foreign language, then you should give language learning with Optlingo a chance.
It’s a proven program designed to lead to rapid fluency without the problems that plague other programs. This way both you and your children can enjoy the journey of being multilingual together. You both can experience all of the benefits knowing more than one language will provide you. And if you already speak a foreign language, then continue to encourage your children to do so knowing that you’re helping them secure a better overall quality of life.
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