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Language Learning and Children


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As I talked about in my introduction post, I have a seven-year-old son that is enrolled in a Spanish Immersion Program at his school. What this means for him is that he spends half of his day in a classroom where they speak only Spanish and half of the day in a classroom where they speak English. I really do think that this is a great program because it gives the children the opportunity to learn more and be challenged more.

However, his being enrolled in Spanish Immersion has become an issue within the family because my husband's family doesn't feel like it is right to start a child learning a second language when they are very young because they really haven't had the opportunity to master their first language.

I know that everyone here is like me and learning second languages and beyond and therefore I thought this would be the perfect place to find out what other people think about a child learning a second language when they are very young.

I will point out that my son in a year and a half knows almost as much Spanish as I learned in school, taking classes from 7th through 10th grade and a little bit in college as well. He really is like a little sponge with it.

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It has been proven the best age to learn a second language or even a third one is as a child.  Believe, children can pick languages in a very different way... think of them as little sponges!  Don't worry about your kid haven't ''mastered'' his native tongue, he's very likely to learn to speak both languages fluently by the time he starts going to the junior high school!

He will keep on imporving his english, and will also learn a good language.  Don't worry.  Kids can with that and more! It's great you are doing this for him, he will be bilingual in no time :)  I know your relatives don't see it this way, but that's because they don't know how receptive kids are at that age.

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I agree with Trellum. There's nothing to worry about. A kid can learn a language by just hearing it spoken. So regardless of whether your child is learning Spanish half the day or not, since you speak English at home, quite naturally, he'll pick it up and be equally proficient in both languages.

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I agree too not to understand the ability of children to pick up concepts at a young age.  I know of several children in the neighborhood that are learning two languages in advanced programs.  Seems kids have less hang ups than adults sometimes do and maybe the lack of stress in suceeding, and seeing things as a new endeavor, makes for an amazing learning curve.

I agree with Trellum, they are like sponges and often so eager to learn.  If you or the husband are concerned, stay involved with the teachers and monitor progress.  Hopefully you will be pleasantly surprised.

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To put it bluntly, your in-laws are not highly informed about language acquisition. For whatever reason, second language acquisition happens much more smoothly before puberty. If you study a foreign language after hitting puberty, your chances of reaching a native-like ability (where a native-speaker would confuse you for a native-speaker) are basically zero. However, if you start learning a foreign language before puberty, your chances of reaching a native-like ability are much higher.

There are populations all over the world where children are in bilingual settings and develop two (or more) languages at the same time and develop native competency in both. Your son will develop his English normally while he learns Spanish. Learning Spanish at a young age will have no lasting negative effect on his English. There is really no reason not to take advantage of an immersion program for children.

Please try to keep your son in the immersion program if you can.

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I think your spouse's family is overreacting. Your son mainly speaks his native language throughout the day. So, learning a second language is not going to impede his development in any way.

And yes - I certainly believe that people should start learning a second language as a child. It's when they are most open and apt to pick up new information quickly.

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Don't mind your husband's family, you did the right thing. Children are the most malleable people in the world when it comes to learning something new, so take advantage of your child's youth. I'm sure that when the child grows up being fluent in 2 languages, your husband's family will thank you that you did not listen to them and you made the right choice.

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I really do intend to keep him in the program because I personally do feel like it is adding a lot to his education. You see, both of my children are gifted and having the opportunity to enroll him in immersion started out as something to challenge him, but now that he has been in the program for over a year, I also see it as something that really is enriching him.

I feel that he is very lucky that he has that opportunity in his education. I would have done the same thing for his older sister, but the program is actually only in it's third year here and my daughter is in fifth grade (or sixth year).

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As I talked about in my introduction post, I have a seven-year-old son that is enrolled in a Spanish Immersion Program at his school. What this means for him is that he spends half of his day in a classroom where they speak only Spanish and half of the day in a classroom where they speak English. I really do think that this is a great program because it gives the children the opportunity to learn more and be challenged more.

However, his being enrolled in Spanish Immersion has become an issue within the family because my husband's family doesn't feel like it is right to start a child learning a second language when they are very young because they really haven't had the opportunity to master their first language.

I know that everyone here is like me and learning second languages and beyond and therefore I thought this would be the perfect place to find out what other people think about a child learning a second language when they are very young.

I will point out that my son in a year and a half knows almost as much Spanish as I learned in school, taking classes from 7th through 10th grade and a little bit in college as well. He really is like a little sponge with it.

I believe you have answered your own question a bit. You said your son is really like a little sponge with it. There are just some individuals who are very proficient with learning languages, like myself. Some persons' brains are just made for it. What is even more, is that the earlier one begins to learn is the better one will be with the language as one proceeds in life. Therefore, your husband and his side of the family should not be complaining, but rather rejoicing. They've got a little treasure in their family and they should keep it. Good choice, and good job.

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I think it is a great idea, as long as the student is able to keep up with the course-load with learning the additional language. For instance, if a student is really struggling to learn basic English concepts, would it be beneficial for the student to add another language onto those struggles? I'm not to versed in these immersion programs, but I imagine they would require some sort of academic standard to join so a lower student wouldn't just greatly struggle through the program

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As I talked about in my introduction post, I have a seven-year-old son that is enrolled in a Spanish Immersion Program at his school. What this means for him is that he spends half of his day in a classroom where they speak only Spanish and half of the day in a classroom where they speak English. I really do think that this is a great program because it gives the children the opportunity to learn more and be challenged more.

However, his being enrolled in Spanish Immersion has become an issue within the family because my husband's family doesn't feel like it is right to start a child learning a second language when they are very young because they really haven't had the opportunity to master their first language.

I know that everyone here is like me and learning second languages and beyond and therefore I thought this would be the perfect place to find out what other people think about a child learning a second language when they are very young.

I will point out that my son in a year and a half knows almost as much Spanish as I learned in school, taking classes from 7th through 10th grade and a little bit in college as well. He really is like a little sponge with it.

You're paving the way for a brilliant linguist or translator. Let him continue his Spanish studies. He will thank you later for the help and push you gave him in the earlier years of his life. You are not only investing in him, you are investing in you. I don't believe anything is wrong if he learns all he can now. He won't mad unless you push him too much.  :grin:

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As I talked about in my introduction post, I have a seven-year-old son that is enrolled in a Spanish Immersion Program at his school. What this means for him is that he spends half of his day in a classroom where they speak only Spanish and half of the day in a classroom where they speak English. I really do think that this is a great program because it gives the children the opportunity to learn more and be challenged more.

However, his being enrolled in Spanish Immersion has become an issue within the family because my husband's family doesn't feel like it is right to start a child learning a second language when they are very young because they really haven't had the opportunity to master their first language.

I know that everyone here is like me and learning second languages and beyond and therefore I thought this would be the perfect place to find out what other people think about a child learning a second language when they are very young.

I will point out that my son in a year and a half knows almost as much Spanish as I learned in school, taking classes from 7th through 10th grade and a little bit in college as well. He really is like a little sponge with it.

If you happen to be in the US, this is an awesome opportunity for your son! If you want to get technical, when the family starts complaining it, bring out the statistics on the rise of the Hispanic population in our country. I think in a very short time, being fluent in Spanish to communicate with a good majority of the people is going to be a necessity.

Even now, in different parts of the country, a person who is bilingual Spanish/English will be picked for jobs over those who aren't. I think this type of situation is only going to be more prevalent in the future.

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I think it is a great idea, as long as the student is able to keep up with the course-load with learning the additional language. For instance, if a student is really struggling to learn basic English concepts, would it be beneficial for the student to add another language onto those struggles? I'm not to versed in these immersion programs, but I imagine they would require some sort of academic standard to join so a lower student wouldn't just greatly struggle through the program

He actually started this in kindergarten, so all of the children were literally just starting out. However, if you want to get involved in the program at a slightly older age, the kids have to have some sort of comprehension of the second language as well as be at or above grade level with their other courses. I think that is good because it doesn't mean that students are excluded, but they are making sure that they aren't pushed too hard.

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You're paving the way for a brilliant linguist or translator. Let him continue his Spanish studies. He will thank you later for the help and push you gave him in the earlier years of his life. You are not only investing in him, you are investing in you. I don't believe anything is wrong if he learns all he can now. He won't mad unless you push him too much.  :grin:

That is one thing that I like about what he is doing is that he really does seem to thrive in it. I enrolled him to challenge him further and then I realized that it is going to be something that benefits him for the rest of his life.

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If you happen to be in the US, this is an awesome opportunity for your son! If you want to get technical, when the family starts complaining it, bring out the statistics on the rise of the Hispanic population in our country. I think in a very short time, being fluent in Spanish to communicate with a good majority of the people is going to be a necessity.

Even now, in different parts of the country, a person who is bilingual Spanish/English will be picked for jobs over those who aren't. I think this type of situation is only going to be more prevalent in the future.

We are in the United States, in Kentucky to be more precise and I've definitely seen the rise in the Hispanic population in our area through my lifetime. I know that his having this additional skill will make a huge difference for his future because I do honestly believe that there will come a time that Spanish will be spoken just as often as English is spoken in this country.

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In our country, children start learning our second language English between the ages of 4-5 yrs. old in preschool. We are exposed to the English language and we often speak either straight English or a mixture of our native language and English so we can easily learn and understand it. :)

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My older kid started learning English when he was 5 years old and he picked up some words and structure fairly quick. We then stopped his learning because it was somewhat expensive and he's now on public school with English again, but I don't see him learning much. I think it's still early though, he has time to learn.

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Your huband's family just don't understand that the earlier a child starts learning a foreign language the more easier it will be for the child to master it. I promise you, your son won't get confused, even if he was learning more than one language at the same time he would be able to seperate them, kids are like that :cool:.He will also go on to grasp English just as well :smile:.

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Your huband's family just don't understand that the earlier a child starts learning a foreign language the more easier it will be for the child to master it. I promise you, your son won't get confused, even if he was learning more than one language at the same time he would be able to seperate them, kids are like that :cool:.He will also go on to grasp English just as well :smile:.

That is exactly what I am seeing in Paul. He is a cracker jack with Spanish and it will benefit him a lot in the future. However, he is also picking up his English skills with reading and writing above grade level. I really believe that his working in two different languages is making him a better learner.

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I think that learning a second language is very beneficial to children's brain development and is a skill that might help them out during their lifetime. :)

I agree with you. I also think that if a child starts early with a second language they will be able to grasp that language more readily.

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I think it's a great thing for your son to learn a second language at a young age. Children learn languages so much faster. They also forget them very fast too, lol. So as long as he keeps speaking both English and Spanish, then he'll be good at both. It's harder for teenagers and adults to learn a second language, so I think you're doing the right thing.

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