Many people are familiar with the concept of a "critical period" for language acquisition. The idea that people cannot master a new language after reaching a certain age is quite common.
Researchers do not agree on whether a critical period exists, and they do not agree on when this critical period may occur. Recommended ranges from 4 to 12 years old which is actually the range of Qkids English language teaching spectrum.
Conflict aside, research on bilingualism and second language learning converges firmly on a simple take-home point: the earlier is the better.
There may not be a sharp turn for the worse at any point in development, but there is an incremental decline in language learning abilities with age.
What are the factors affecting the process?
This point is best understood as the interaction between biological and environmental factors.
Researchers have argued that biological change during the first two decades of life results in a reduced capacity to learn and retain the subtleties of language. In other words, our brains may be more receptive to language early in life. But more importantly, our environment is also more conducive to language learning early in life. In many cultures and in many families, young children experience a very rich language environment during the first years of life.
They hear language in remarkable, digestible packets that are masterfully targeted at their developmental level Carers often speak in ways that are neither too simple nor too complex, and children practice language for hours and hours each day. This high-quality and high-volume experience with language, a particular feature of how people communicate with young children, often results in successful language learning.
It provides children with rich, diverse and engaging opportunities to learn about the sounds, syllables, words, phrases and sentences that make up their mother tongue. However, beyond the first years of life, second language learning is often very different.
How about at an older age?
Older children and adults often do not have the same time to devote to language learning and often do not take advantage of fun, continuous, one-on-one interaction with native speakers. Instead, they often find themselves in a classroom, where they get a small fraction of the language practice babies and toddlers get. In classrooms, words are defined for them and grammar is explained to them. Identifying and describing can be effective, but not as powerful as exploring the language thoroughly.
When applied to bilingualism, these maturing and environmental differences between younger and older learners suggest that learning two languages early in life is most advantageous. Those who are bilingual who learn two languages from birth are called simultaneous bilinguals, and those who learn a second language and then a new language (as young children or adults) are called sequential bilinguals. Evidence points to fairly robust advantages over sequential bilinguals over simultaneous bilinguals. They tend to have better accents, more diversified vocabulary, higher grammatical proficiency, and greater ability at real-time language processing.
So what to do?
However, parents should not lose hope if they do not expose their children to every language from birth. Babies' brains and learning environments are special and cannot be recreated, but there are many other ways to encourage bilingual development. Here we review two possibilities.
First, some parents (especially those who can afford childcare) choose to hire bilingual nannies or send children to bilingual kindergartens to maximize their child's exposure to another language. This can certainly lead to increased bilingual proficiency, but it is important to provide continued opportunities to practice each language once the child has grown up. If children do not have opportunities to continue learning and using a language throughout development, parental expectations should be quite low. However, keep in mind that bilingual exposure does not mean being a bilingual person who can understand and speak a language fluently. Researchers generally consider a child to be bilingual if they have at least 10-25% exposure to each language, but this level of exposure in no way guarantees functional bilingualism.
Qkids English Methodology depends on Bilingual teaching metrics and its enhanced impulsive content enlights children learning process and let them evolve to the achievement milestones.
Second, there are language immersion programs in primary schools in many countries around the world, including the USA and Canada. Their aim is to promote bilingualism and multicultural competence among both language majority and language minority students.
How should language exposure be?
In terms of amount of language exposure, immersion classes do not rival infants' language environments. However, they often promote functional bilingualism and equip children with language skills that will assist them in later educational and professional contexts.
The messages about exposure to bilingual language learning are clear!