Early Learning Library
Insightful Articles on Language Learning
Years of research have proven over and over again the many benefits of learning a second language as a child.
See below what prestigious universities, newspapers, magazines and respected doctors, scientists and academics around the world are saying.
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Getting the Most out of Language Instruction at School
If your child is learning a new language—or continuing one she's already had experience with—at school, there is so much you can do to support their class-time activities. First of all, be excited—ask questions about what they learned, and ask them to apply it to things at home, or when talking about their friends. And you don't have to know the language or speak it fluently to do this—the critical input from you is your enthusiasm, that your child knows her efforts at school have a home with you.
Read more about optimizing language learning at school
The Presidential Candidates and Second Languages
Senators Obama and McCain have both emphasized throughout their campaigns the importance of involving parents in the education of their children. Senator McCain's website stresses that he "will place parents and children at the center of the education process," while Senator Obama has encouraged parents to "turn off the TV set; we've got to put away the video game. And we have to tell our children that education is not a passive activity; it is something that you have to be actively engaged in." Senator Obama's remarks have built upon that can-do attitude, challenging parents to make a second language a part of every child's education, as it is in many other nations around the world.
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How Children Learn Languages
Learning a language—learning a first language or learning a fourth—is an exceptional accomplishment for anybody. Yet everyone completes this process and does so successfully at least once in their life. Linguists—those researchers who devote their lives and thoughts to studying the intricacies and nuances of language—call the learning process "doubtless the greatest intellectual feat any one of us is ever required to perform." Yet this achievement is often taken completely for granted. For non-linguists (like most of us), the magnitude of this accomplishment only becomes apparent when we step back and think of everything that goes into the first few faltering steps we take toward language.
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MUZZY Around The World
The MUZZY language program has been successful in homes and classrooms around the world because it is based upon three key facts: children are naturally built to learn languages, children love learning languages and, because of the principles of universal grammar, children can learn any language, given the right environment and support. Whether MUZZY is helping children in California learn Mandarin Chinese or kids in China learn English, the MUZZY program has helped to create just that kind of environment and support that produces such good results.
Read more about the MUZZY Language Program
Which Language Is Best for My Child?
Many parents approach their children's language learning with a very specific reason and goal in mind. For these families, selecting a second language may be a clear choice. They plan on taking trips abroad and want their child to be able to appreciate their destination in a way far beyond just soaking up the sights. Or they hope their child will pick up their new language and use it to communicate with a relative who might feel most comfortable in a language other than English. For many of us, however, the answer isn't quite as obvious. Selecting a language might seem a lot like picking classes in high school or college—the question of what to take can sometimes be very straightforward, but other times there are a number of great options. Our advice? Focus more on the benefits and pleasure that another language—any language—will give your child. Opening a new window to the world for your child through language is the most important step. When it comes to choosing a language to start, there are no wrong answers.
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How to Make the Most of Traveling Abroad with Your Children
As spring nears, many parents are thinking ahead to vacation destinations. There are of course many things to consider when planning a family trip. Details like passports and packing lists aside, you may also want to consider how you can use this experience to boost your child's language learning. Here are a few tips.
Read more about foreign languages and travel
What If I Don't Speak a Language, But I Hope My Child Will?
Along with a child's natural sense of awe and inquisitiveness is an incredible and often adorable capacity for imitation. Parents often try extra hard to present a good example—taking care to greet people properly and being more polite, for instance—because they know their habits will be picked up by their children. When it comes to learning a second language, however, this readiness to imitate concerns some parents—even some who have quite good conversational skills in a second language. They worry that if their language skills are a little rusty, or their accent a little too noticeably American, their children will pick up some bad habits and start off on the wrong foot. However, even if your second language vocabulary is limited to an uncertain "hola" or imperfect "gracias," every parent should take an active and participatory role in their child's language learning.
Read more about monolingual parents teaching children languages
How to Read to Your Child - In Any Language
The good news is that parents can do a lot to help their children claim these benefits in a second language. And they can do so by following many of the same strategies and much of the same advice that works so well for learning to read in the first language. And even better news is that you don't have to be an ace linguist to do these things and to do them well, in a way that helps your child learn and grow in their new language. They're things that you probably are already doing—or have already done—while introducing them to reading in their first language. With a little adaptation and a little imagination, they'll be just as effective with a second language too.
Read more about language pronunciation and tips
Top Ten Benefits of Early Language Learning
As children grow, all parents can attest to how much fun their children continue to have as they sing new words they hear and even invent new ones with a huge, bright smile. The joy with which children explore their first language makes childhood the ideal time for a second language—even if all the other reasons for an early start didn't exist! But there are many other reasons, and while this list does not exhaust the number and variety of advantages starting a language early can provide.
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Bilingual Celebrities - Who Knew?
A foreign actor, diplomat, writer, or athlete speaking fluent English is not much of a surprise to American or British audiences. Perhaps a little arrogantly, we expect Penélope Cruz, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Roger Federer, or Charlize Theron to drop their native languages (Spanish, German, Swiss German, and Afrikaans, respectively) and chat in flawless English. But you may be surprised by the number and the names of the native English-speaking celebrities who speak another language.
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Does Bilingualism Help Children Learn to Read?
Learning and using another language have been linked to all kinds of benefits for children and adults. This is particularly true for young children's expanding cognitive abilities. According to Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto of Dartmouth College, children who have been exposed early to a second language possess an overall "cognitive edge." Numerous studies have also linked language education to higher scores on many standardized tests. But can knowing another language also help children learn to read? A study from Canada's York University suggests that bilingualism may in fact impact the development of literacy in a number of significant ways.
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Three Factors for Success in Language Learning
A number of factors influence anyone's success at mastering a new language. Such a complex process necessarily has many contributing causes and elements. However, we at Early Advantage have seen three factors repeated time and again in the advice and the research surrounding second language learning—immersion, consistency and an early start. These three aspects of the language—learning process are key for your child to secure a strong foundation for acquiring a second language and grow into it enjoyably and productively.
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The Power of Multi-Sensory Learning: A New "Old" Way for Kids to Learn Spanish
Field trips or museum trips may not seem like cutting-edge educational policy, but they work a lot like the educational tools and strategies of what is known as multi-sensory learning. Multi-sensory learning takes advantage of the way our senses—hearing, sight, and touch, primarily—reinforce one another while learning. Each sense builds toward a more complete experience of a concept or idea. Because multi-sensory learning gives you more than one way of experiencing something, its ideal for children who naturally engage multiple senses in both learning and play. It is also ideal for the creation of the type of immersive environment that is so crucial for learning a second language.
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Good Words to Know for Language Learning: Terms to Learn French of Any Other Language
Your child is ready to learn French or Spanish or another language, but doing research on language learning can hand you a bunch of unfamiliar terms that look more like a foreign language than what your child is learning! There are a number of different methods and approaches for learning a second language. Some methods are practiced mainly in the classroom. Some are more often applied to the experiences your child might have while learning French or another language at home.
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Harvard Study Says Kids Learn Chinese and English the Same Way
Seeking to discover how children naturally acquire a second language, Harvard developmental psychologist Jesse Snedeker recently studied a group of preschool-aged children who were adopted from China. These children, who learn Chinese in their native country, often face an abrupt transition to an all-English environment. Snedeker found that the adopted children followed the same language-learning patterns we associate with infants, only at a greatly accelerated pace.
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Most kids in China learn English, so why should our kids learn Chinese?
While English may be the language everyone is listening to and learning today, within the next 10 or 15 years, it will likely find itself sharing the world's spotlight. Whether or not kids learn Chinese today, experts predict that they will face a different world—with a changing linguistic landscape—by the time they reach adulthood.
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If my kids learn Spanish, will it affect their English skills?
Despite the growing trend of teaching children a second language in childhood, some parents still struggle with the idea of introducing another language before their child has mastered his first. Let's talk about three of the most common misconceptions about teaching Spanish or French or Chinese or any language to children.
Read more about the affect of kids learning foreign languages
Is French Being Left Behind?
The New York Times reported that thousands of public schools are bending to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind by cutting resources for non-mandated subjects like foreign languages. Meanwhile, Chinese and Spanish classes for children are surging in popularity. Are schools bidding au revoir to French classes for children?
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Give Your Child a Bigger World with Languages
Language is at the very center of human interaction and communication. It is the bridge that connects us or the gap that may divide us. As such, the most important benefit of learning a second language may simply be the different perspective and cross-cultural awareness that comes with it.
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The Immersion Model for Teaching German to Kids
Today, standardized testing in math and English dominates the national curriculum, and public schools shift attention accordingly. Despite this, one Milwaukee German immersion school celebrates 30 years of success, a model for immersion learning.
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New York Times Reports Long Term Brain Boost from Bilingualism
Is there a brain boost when toddlers learn Spanish? The New York Times and esteemed researchers report that learning a second language at a young age actually changes the structure of the brain and brings cognitive benefits that last a lifetime.
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Dartmouth Neuroscientist Finds "Cognitive Edge" when Children Learn French
Laura-Ann Petitto, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist at Dartmouth College finds that bilingual children who learn French and English perform certain cognitive tasks more accurately than monolinguals and thus have a “cognitive edge.”
Read more about the cognitive benefits of kids learning languages
Nature Reports Exciting Research Showing Grey Matter Increase in Early Bilingual Children
Will teaching Italian to toddlers make them more intelligent? A groundbreaking study reported in the respected scientific journal Nature shows that the increase in grey matter, which has been linked to higher intelligence, is proportionally greater for “early” bilinguals who acquired their second language at a very young age.
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Chinese for Kids: Learning to Greet and Compete in Mandarin
Parents and educators anticipate a changing world where English is not necessarily the dominant language. No longer a sleeping giant, China now boasts the fastest growing national economy, recently surpassing Great Britain to become the fourth largest in the world. Will your children be ready to meet - and compete - with the new kids on the block?
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The "Window of Opportunity" for Language Learning
Many experts say that there are unique learning advantages that come with childhood. Others simply point to the native accents and greater proficiency achieved by young language learners. Regardless of the reasoning, researchers agree that earlier is better when it comes to language learning and second languages.
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German for Kids: Food for Thought
Plenty of children know that schnitzel with noodles is one of Maria’s favorite things in the The Sound of Music. Comparatively few have any idea what schnitzel is. Similar befuddlement prevails when sauerkraut and apple strudel come up. The first is something gross that grown-ups eat with hot dogs. As for the second, well, “apple” is self-explanatory . . . maybe “strudel” means “gooey?” John F. Kennedy’s surprise declaration from 1963, Ich bin ein Berliner (“I am a jelly donut”), reminds us that many Americans of all ages have long been as fuzzy on the German language as they are on German food.
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Language Courses for Children: Where To Start?
So your child wants to learn a foreign language. Or you want your child to, knowing that a command of Spanish, Russian, or Mandarin is well worth the effort. Now the question is, where to start? With so many language courses available, which option is best for your kid? The answer depends on individual goals and learning styles. Despite the absence of a one-size-fits-all solution, familiarizing yourself with the various possibilities will enable you to make a good choice for your child. What follows is a survey of some of the most prominent approaches now in use. These range from immersion language courses in a classroom setting to specialized media for learning at home.
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Portuguese for Kids
Despite its international prevalence, Portuguese is a rare bird in American elementary and secondary schools. Por que? With 178 million speakers worldwide, Portuguese ranks as the third most widely spoken European language, after Spanish and English. Many Americans know the language only as a relative—not to say ugly stepsister—of Spanish. Spaniards themselves, however, have long regarded this kindred Romance language with admiration; Cervantes himself dubbed Portuguese “the sweet language.” Sweet, widespread, and easy to learn, Portuguese for kids is an appealing choice.
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Russian For Kids
In this era of vigorous technological development, the value of a sound education in science and math generally goes without question. Fair enough, right? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize the wider applications of her own quantitative training and its demand in the professional world. What too often escapes notice is the equal importance of foreign languages like Russian for kids early in their development.
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Spanish Language Course
Remember when political debates revolved around issues other than the economy and unemployment? Two years ago—it feels more like ten—Barack Obama spoke up for the importance of Spanish language courses. “Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English—they’ll learn English—you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish,” declared the future president in a Powder Springs, GA campaign speech. “You should be thinking about how . . . your child [can] become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language.” Although other concerns have since garnered more attention, the president’s point remains valid. A Spanish language course offers children skills they will need to navigate an increasingly interdependent world.
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Chinese for Kids - A Language On The Rise
This August, China made a big splash—well, another one—in world news. The New York Times reported that the country’s economy has grown to become the second-largest in the world. Previously, Japan had occupied the number two slot, and while the United States remains at the top, economists expect it to share the spotlight with China by 2030. Never has there been a more appropriate time to encourage Chinese for kids. Aside from the delights that come with learning any language, Chinese for kids offers them unique access to a blossoming and increasingly influential country.
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