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Should children learn few languages at the same time

As I am sure you are aware, children are unable to pick up languages incredibly easy at a young age due to the way that they interact with the world. Due to this there are many parents that allow their child during this key language stage of their life to develop their language skills in a multitude of different languages. However, does this ‘greedy’ approach end up causing more harm than good in the development of your child? Let’s take a little look.

One of the major downsides of learning multiple languages at the same time is that it can often be ‘too much’ for the child. This could result in a much slower learning pace for the child. In the early stages of a person’s life they are trying to make sense of all the words that surround them. If they are surrounded by multiple languages at the same time it can become incredibly confusing as the child does not have the innate ability at a young age to differentiate between the two. People have found that in this situation the child mixes the two languages in the same sentence, this is something that you obviously want to avoid.

For most people it is much better to learn languages one after the other as opposed to simultaneously. This will result in much less confusion on behalf of the child and makes it much easier for them to learn in the long run. On the other hand however many parents have indicated that their child has managed to pick up multiple languages through no real effort on their part before the age of 8. Perhaps it would therefore be better not to make a physical effort to teach a child. It seems that their minds will pick up the language fairly quickly if they are exposed to it often.

There are a few cases in which it is probably fine to expose a child to multiple languages. This is when you live in a bilingual household, this will give the child motivation to learn the language themselves. All too often the parent forces a child to learn a secondary language as opposed to them having a genuine need for it, this of course will not give the required motivation and they will not be able to learn it properly.

As a final point, if you are a multilingual family then you should bear in mind what many linguists say. If you are going to teach your toddler multiple languages at the same time then it needs to be ‘low key’. This means you don’t make an effort to teach them, you allow the child to pick it up by themselves.

It is worth remembering however that there are many children out there that have managed to become perfectly bilingual at a young age and therefore it is an approach that could work. However, you should remember that it only takes a few years for a person to develop their own individual language skills and thus it may be worth the few years wait before introducing them to a secondary language. You have up until the early teen years before the skills that a child has in learning a language slowly dwindle.

The above article is written by Native English Tutor Wonderland. No copyright infringement is allowed. Please respect copyright and show the URL and source of the article if you want to make use of the above article. Thanks

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