Research has shown that children between birth and ten years of age have a better
capacity of learning another language than adults. They have a natural
ability, a "window of opportunity," to pick up new vocabulary
without making a conscious effort. They are like sponges at this young
stage of development, soaking in new information eagerly.
In essence, children take in another
language almost as easily as their own, laying a foundation for learning
that lasts a lifetime. You may be surprised how well learning Spanish
actually enhances their English! The benefits of foreign language study
at a young age are plentiful.
Excerpt from Rocky Mountain News (Sunday, January 30, 2000) article "Second
language? Second nature" by Deborah White:
...brain research that shows there is a window of opportunity for optimum language
learning from birth until about age 10.
Scientists have discovered that babies are born with billions of brain cells, and
they form connections, or synapses, in direct response to their experiences.
If the synapses are stimulated repeatedly, they become stronger. But
if they are not used often, they are not likely to remain.
The window of opportunity for languages starts closing at about 10 because
the brain purges weak synapses and leaves the ones that have been strengthened
Rhodes and others advocate early language learning because it enhances intellectual
growth, helps to improve listening skills, improves understanding of
the native language and expands creativity and problem-solving skills.
Excerpt from Newsweek (February 19, 1996) article "Your Child's Brain" by Sharon Begley:
The Language Brain
LEARNING WINDOW: Birth to 10 years
WHAT WE KNOW: Circuits in the auditory cortex, representing the sounds that form words,
are wired by the age of one. The more words a child hears by two, the larger her vocabulary will grow.
WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT: Talk to your child – a lot. If you want her to master a second language,
introduce it by the age of 10.