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Best age to start learning a new language?


lushlala
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I agree that learning a language early is best, I know I wish my parents had taught me more languages back then. I started learning English when I was 5 years old and it was extremely easy for me to master it. On the other hand, I started learning Swedish in college and it's very difficult - not to learn the rules and the words but rather to make them automatic and to be able to speak and write without thinking about which word comes next.

My 7-year-old cousin can now fluently speak Swedish, Serbian and English because the people around her spoke those languages constantly since she was born. I know a lot of people think that is bad for the child because it confuses them, but as far as I've seen it's the opposite. She has no difficulties expressing herself in whichever language she chooses. I'm studying Linguistics and we learned that proper articulation and accents can only be taught if the child starts learning a language before they're around 7. Otherwise they can master the grammar and the vocabulary but they will never sound like a native speaker. As far as other aspects of language go, it's easier for children but not at all impossible for adults.

Honestly I don't think accents are such a bad thing, as long as the person's understandable. Mostly they even sound better because they're unique and different.

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I think that with languages, the earlier you start, the better. The mind is a lot more pliable and receptive when you're younger, and it becomes less receptive as you grow older. My parents spoke to me in English when I was young, and I learnt my mother tongue about 7 years later. I learnt another language purely by watching films in the language from a very young age, and now although I can't write it, I can speak it pretty fluently.

I know many people who start speaking to their children fluently in a foreign language from a very young age (even one or two), and the child gradually picks up the language easily. They may not be comfortable with the grammar or vocabulary that isn't used colloquially, however they can communicate easily with others who speak the language, which is a great skill they pick up at a very young age.

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I think that someone else was me in another thread :P  A thread I created about active listening if I am not mistaken.  But yeah, children have it so easy when it comes to language, that is why it'd not be so shocking if we meet a kid who can speak 5 languages.  It's all up to the parents in the end.

Hehe it was probably you, Trellum. I wouldn't really remember, it was so long ago! I agree kids have this ability to just dip in and out languages that's so amazing to watch. -and you're right, it's also up to the parents to encourage them. This is why I worry about some modern mothers here who don't care about their children learning their own mother tongue. It seems to be fashionable to say their kids don't speak their own language. Truly mind boggling.

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I read that the best age to learn a language is very young. When children are young, they soak up information like a sponge. This makes it easier for them to retain information. Therefore, it can become like second nature to them.

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Age 7 is what we call age of reason. Learning language before that age is ideal because the mind is fertile and quite virgin in terms of vocabulary and speech knowledge. Since the  medium of instruction in schools at the time was English, we were taught some English in the house. From my experience, the so called conversational English is the easiest to learn like...

1. Greetings - good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good day

2. What is your name - may name is...

3. Where to do you live - at live at (number, street, town).

Those were the basics that I remember when we children were taught by our parents on conversational English. And the word meanings are to follow.

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I really agree about what you said, personally i start learning frech when I was 9 years old ( I'm an Arabic native speaker), then once I became 12 years old I started learning English, and as I was young I learnt those languages quickly and without any difficulties ! And it really stick in my head !!

Now I'm 22 years old, and I been trying to learnt Italian, but I'm facing alot of difficulties, I can't remember things easily, since my hed is full of things !! So for me the best age to learn a none native languages is between 9 and 17 years old.

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I think the younger the better. I feel like if you're learning it at a young age, you just presume there are two different ways for saying things or for asking questions.

I have a young daughter and ideally I want to get her enrolled in Japanese pre-school whilst we are living here, because I just feel like if she gets an understanding of the language early, it will stick with her.

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I wish that I had known something like Spanish or French. Those would have been a cool language to learn. I honestly think that if you start at a very young age then it's better. I think that when your child starts talking then that would be a good age. I think that they older you get, the harder it gets to learn a new language.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think that the best age to learn a language is when you're a kid, about 5-8 years old is the best time to learn new things! That's why a lot of parents take their kids to swimming, piano lessons, etc. and there's a neurological thing going on in that age (I'm not really sure what) but your memory is really flexible and you can learn things more easily than when you're older.

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  • 4 weeks later...

As young as possible, probably around 1-3 years old. But that would be a case of information overload to the children since they're just starting to talk and get used to the language, and studying another language could be a bit too much for them. Maybe a little bit older like 4-8 years old would be ideal.

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The proper time to start learning a new language was yesterday. The next best time it's today.

On a serious note, there is no proper time. However, younger people seem to learn easy languages (such as English) a bit faster.

Of course, you can't expect from a 7 years old to write proper German or even English; however, what they can do at a young age, with proper guidance, obviously, is to improve their vocabulary. It definitely helps and puts them way ahead of other kids of the same age.

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I think  children of a young age learn anything faster than grownups. That includes languages and this should be a good time to introduce it to them. Kids appear to soak up everything and master it in no time at all.

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How I wish that my parents exposed me to learn a new language at early age because right now it is such a struggle for me. I often lose my motivation every time I forget a certain term or language rule. Maybe if I were taught earlier I could have learned easier.

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  • 2 months later...

I also wish I had the opportunity to learn a language in my younger years.  I think even learning it in middle/high school set me back compared to if I were to learn it as a child.  Children's minds are better able to develop the skills for learning a new language.  I also think speaking it at home (or even often) helps children pick it up faster then if they were to just be learning this language in schools a few days a week.  

It is important to constantly be around those speaking the language to full learn it.

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  • 2 months later...

As soon as the kindergarten I think it's the best for kids to start learning new languages. At a younger age kids will be able to assimilate information way quicker than when they grow older. They have it easier to learn, and they can treat everything like a game and it will eventually become second nature. There are many cases of kids being born in different countries than their parents and thus being able to speak two languages fluently really soon. And if they study new languages at school/kindergarten they will be able to express themselves in even more languages. It's fantastic how the brain develops as a kid.

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The younger you are, the better! Start teaching them other languages when they are toddlers and it will be easier for them to learn and keep fresh in the mind. I'm in my twenties trying to learn new things, and it's hard.

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Any age is fine, as long as you honestly want to learn a given language.
Because why do I keep failing at Spanish, while I always manage to make huge progress in Japanese easily?
That's because I feel passionate about the Japanese language, culture, food, etc., while to Spanish not so much.
And I put Japanese into practise every single day, while I don't bother using Spanish outside my 'core study time'.

While I know you should use a language all day long every single day to really become fluent in it, the main languages I must use online every day are English and Japanese (Dutch and Polish for offline use).
And I've noticed this fact while being in Germany last week; my German skills got notably worse. :(

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On 06 February 2016, Blaveloper said:

Any age is fine, as long as you honestly want to learn a given language.

Couldn't agree more. Honestly, I'm not sure what's the big fuss about "early". "Let's learn as earlier as possible! Let's make children learn when they are 5! 3! 1! Better still, when they are still in the mother's womb!" :)

I suspect that this is one huge pretext for grown-ups not to do any serious studying. "Oh, if only I was younger, but now, my memory is not the same... so no, I can't really learn English.."

I have heard people say this so many times that frankly, I'm getting tired of it. You don't want to learn a language/play the guitar/enjoy Thai cuisine? That's totally fine! Nobody is forcing you to do it. But why do people keep pretending that they "really, really" want to but cannot because they are "too old"? Don't get it :)

My personal experience is rather the opposite. It's true that when I was a child or teenager I was able to concentrate for longer periods of time. Maybe my memory was slightly better too. But so what? I didn't have any experience, organizational skills, ability to motivate myself and a lot of other useful stuff that you acquire with passing years. My learning is definitely more efficient now than it used to be. And I don't think I'm a sort of unique, incredible exception to the rules.

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  • 1 month later...

Actually if my dad had his way he would taught a bunch of languages at like the age of 5 yrs old, but that never stopped my interest in other language so I started in middle school, and since I intend to start a family in the future, I'm gonna do for my kids what my couldn't for me and siblings... So yeah...

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