Are 2YOs too young to learn a second language

Chelsea's first trike - My granddaughter riding her first trike
@mipen2006 (5528)
Australia
February 11, 2007 9:01pm CST
I have a friend whose three year old son speaks English and Thai as well as any child the same age. Admittedly, his mother is Thai and his father Australian. The point is he has no difficulty simply translating to either parent if they don't understand the other. What age do you think a child from a single language home should start learning a second language. It's so important nowadays to have more than one tongue.
9 people like this
60 responses
@ricknkae (1726)
• United States
12 Feb 07
As soon as possible ! the younger he is the faster he wil learn and the more comfortable he will feel with the second language Do you know that whehn babies are born they have the capacity to learn any language ? I mean it doesn't matter if he is Russian, Chinese or American, he will learn the language he is exposed to. Why ? Because he was born with all the cell necessary to recognise any sound in any language but as he grows those cells are reassigned to other things because he doesn't use them and that is why as we grow up it becomes very difficult to really get the accent of a new language even if we can be very good at writting or reading it. So if you can assign those cells to those foreign sounds then the child will have better skills If you don't know the foreign language yourself you can still "expose" the baby to the language (foreign channels or radios - you can find that online - foreign books ...) Good luck
2 people like this
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
Thanks for the Very good advice. You sound like someone with experience.
2 people like this
@ricknkae (1726)
• United States
12 Feb 07
well I am myself trying to raise my son - 3months old - to be bilingual, so I have made some research plus I started a discussion a little while ago and I had a lot of very interesting answers and a lot of links so that is how I know ... Hope it helps
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@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
It sounds like you're going to give your son all the opportunities available to him. He's a lucky boy.
@fake_you (391)
• Philippines
12 Feb 07
i don't think they're too young to learn a new language. it would be much easier for them to learn another language if they're trained to speak with it. it will also help them to learn faster than other kids who can only speak in one tongue.
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
Would you take a two-year-old to a special school?
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@fake_you (391)
• Philippines
12 Feb 07
not necessarily. taking a 2-year old to a formal school to learn a language will be a little hard on him/her because of her age. at the age of 2, it's better to teach a child the new language in informal way so that the child won't have a hard time dealing with it.
2 people like this
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
I wasn't thinking of a regular school, but a special school or organization specializing in teaching tots, with parents attending as well.
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@SAHMom (40)
• United States
12 Feb 07
Actually they say it is better to try and teach a child a second language when they are young.
2 people like this
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
Everybody seems to agree the younger the better.
1 person likes this
• India
12 Feb 07
absolutely correct .the smaller the better they will pick up faster.
2 people like this
@ibusann (36)
12 Feb 07
I certainly don't think so. When my eldest daughter was three years old, we moved to France for seven months and she learnt to speak French at the Nursery School she attended. Then when she was nine and her sisters were six and three, we moved to Uruguay for three years and all three of them learnt to speak Spanish fluently. At age eleven when we returned to South Africa, she had to catch up on Afrikaans, then at the age of thirteen she started taking French as a subject. She did not have much trouble with it, although her French teacher would often remark that she was speaking with a Spanish accent! She now speaks all four fluently.
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@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
You have one lucky daughter there ibusann. I certainly wish I could speak several languages. I have had to learn from phrase books whenever went overseas, and we know how useless some of those are. Growing up in Australia, in the forties and fifties, there was little or no exposure to any foreign language.
1 person likes this
@polachicago (19075)
• United States
12 Feb 07
I know man who as a little boy spoke 4 launguages (by the age of 4). By the age of 10 he could already speak 8. He is now 31 and can work as translator for 10 languages, additional 6 he can understand.
2 people like this
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
Now that's what I call one lucky man. If I had my time over again, that would be my chosen vocation.
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@earth2jacq (1503)
• Philippines
12 Feb 07
I think the younger the child the better. Since children are like sponge at this stage, they absorb everything from their environment, every information that is readily available to them. They are like blank canvass at this point in their lives.
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
I'm not sure at what age a child absorbs the most information, but I think it's between two and five.
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Feb 07
I've heard that this age is the best to learn languages. So, it's good.
2 people like this
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
As the previous response said 'Ther're sponges' at that age,
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@librarian (181)
• United States
12 Feb 07
Kids are sponges at that age. I'd be careful about HOW he was taught but I might introduce him to another language at least.
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@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
They're sponges indeed. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by HOW they were taught.
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@serenae (161)
• United States
12 Feb 07
When my kids started saying little words like momma I bought them those toys that teach different languages. The one I got was one that taught French, Spanish, and English. I think you should start as early as possible. You are so right that nowadays you have to know more than one language. That is so awesome that your friends child can speak two languages.
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@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
That's awsome, I've never heard of those toys. Are they available on E-bay?
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@XxAngelxX (2833)
• Canada
12 Feb 07
I think as soon as possible. People seem to be able to pick up languages easier the younger they are. If you look at the french immersion classes, most children who started them when they started school are fluent in french by the time they are done with their second year. I think it would be great if you could start from birth but if this isn't available, than definitely as soon as you can.
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@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
You're right, it isn't possible in a lot of situatione, but back in Australia my kids made friends with tow Asian neighbors and they were able to pick up the language quickly. However when they moved the language faded.
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Feb 07
Two is definitely not too early, but when you introduce it make sure it's fun and natural. If you have someone (be it in person or on a cd/video etc) talking normally, but just in a different language the child will accept it naturally and not think anything of it. They would have no confidence issues, which can be a problem when they reach 6 and up. As others have said at this age they are sponges. My daughter has been learning French in her pre-school for a year since she was 3 and she astounds me with what she knows (and she is proud to tell me).
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
12 Feb 07
I agree it should be fun for the child. I also think regular exposure is also necessary. Is your daughter exposed to French away from her pre-school? If not she has blown my theory about exposure away, unless of course she has exceptional talent for learning languages.
• United States
13 Feb 07
Generally she only gets it at school, although I do throw in the occassional phrase at home if she starts off (I majored french at University). I definitely think she has a talent for language, which may be generic - my father is Dutch and my mother bi-lingual in English and French.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Feb 07
I think 2 is a great age to start learning how to speak two different languages. The earlier they learn, the easier they can pick up on the language and obviously that is showing with how well he is able to translate to both sides.
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@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
14 Feb 07
Out of 68 responses, only one thought two was too young.
@amy0214 (1513)
• United States
13 Feb 07
The younger the better. The younger they are the easier it is for them to pick up a second language. It is easiest if they learn from birth./
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@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
13 Feb 07
Only one poster thinks it's too young.
@sonnet (165)
• South Korea
13 Feb 07
I was bilingual from birth (English and German). When I was about 3 or 4 my mum took me to Germany for 6 months and I had to relearn English when we got back to Australia. I don't remember this of course. I teach English as a Foreign Language. Currently I have a group of Korean three-year-olds who I teach for 25 minutes, 3 times a week. We sing songs, practice the alphabet, word recognition, use flashcards and play simple games. This is their only exposure to the English language. I think a 2 or 3 year old can easily absorb another language. Young children learn in a fundamentally different way than adults or older children do. The don't benefit much from formal education but rather from a gradual and natural exposure to the language.
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
13 Feb 07
We have a lot in common. My mother taught German at a state school in Melbourne, although she wasn't German, until German was banned during the war. Now I teach English as a second language in Thailand, but not to kids, to uni students and workers. The ones who have exposure advance, those that don't stagnate.
• United States
13 Feb 07
My husband is French and I am English and my husband spoke only French to my son from the day he was born. Now, my husband travled a lot during his early years so we sort of laid off on it. But, both my son and my 2 yr old daughter both know french. In fact, they ONLY say good night in French and Ilove you in French. They can understand more than they can speak. My husband is away for the next 5-6 months, but our plans are to really delve back in to the French thing when we all get together again.
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@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
13 Feb 07
I studied French at school in Australia, but when I visited there ten years later, the French I had learned wasn't very useful. It is a beautiful language, keep your children speaking both languages.
• Philippines
13 Feb 07
well, i am talking to my son in filipino and english language as well, even he is just four months old, i try to teach him now, i think this time he cannot speak yet but i know he will understand me. i want him to be bilingual, understanding both language...english and tagalog(filipino language). good day
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@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
13 Feb 07
Excellent work, your son is lucky to have the opportunity to speak both languages.
@toots1115 (138)
• United States
13 Feb 07
I am Puerto Rican and I was brought up with both Spanish and English. I once read that if a young child is exposed to 2 or more languages at an early age it is easier for them to learn. My daughter is only one year old and she understands both Spanish and English.
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
13 Feb 07
That's excellent toots1115, make sure your daughter keeps using both languages.
@clod0327 (817)
• Philippines
13 Feb 07
I think you should introduce your kids to new languages as early as possible. They say it is easy to teach a kid because their mind is like a sponge and they can easily absorb anything taugth to them. I have a 1 year old daugther and I started introducing english to her by talking to her in eglish as early as when she is still a baby. Now we started introducing spanish to her by letting her watch Dora The Explorer so she can learn little spanish.
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
13 Feb 07
Is your avatar a picture of your cute daughter? You're doing the right thing teaching her young.
@k1tten (2321)
• United States
12 Feb 07
It's never too early to teach a child a second language. It's just having it as a constant in their life. It has to be a constant or they'll just forget it.
1 person likes this
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
13 Feb 07
Right! I teach English as a second language and one point I drive home to the students is PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! Make friends with English speaking foreigners.
@babegrl (28)
• United States
12 Feb 07
I will tell you that my son can speak spanish. Not alot but he learned it from Dora. For the longest time he spoke mostely spanish and we had to force him to speak english. And he really does not watch alot of TV. At this age they are like sponges and the will learn anything you take the time to teach them.
@mipen2006 (5528)
• Australia
13 Feb 07
He is lucky to be bilingual. The future will be better for people with more than one language.