Perhaps, because of globalization or other factors, many of us have begun to be more interested in travelling around the world to learn from other cultures, other people, other food and why not learn the language of the place we visited.
This leads us to practice pronunciation, memorizing idioms, grammar and vocabulary with their multiple meanings, and also to use everything we learn the right way and in the right context. The success of this depends on many factors, including age, and clearly how and where the new language is acquired.
For children, learning another language turns out to be much easier, their brain is like a sponge, it is more flexible than an adult’s. It is during the first four years of life when most neural connections are generated, and this is a perfect time to feed them with information and linguistic stimuli. According to the research of Dr. Facundo Manes, an Argentine neurologist: “Babies and children are very apt to acquire a new language until they’re seven…”.
Other researchers interested in the subject have shown that to children at a young age, it takes the same to learn one language than two and the process when you start to master a second language must be the same as occurs in learning mother tongue, in a dynamic and engaging way to motivate and capture the attention of children, not surprisingly, because they are not interested in “boredom”. This following four phases: first, listening, then comprising, then speaking and finally reading and writing.
The format is clear: we must reproduce the model of the first language, but with another language, putting the child at the center of the learning process. For bilingual children, age 4, for example, the first language has been a priority area in the brain, while the second has to fight for their space.
Barry McLaughlin. Professor Emeritus of Psychology University of California SantaHe explains that learning in early childhood occurs in two ways: Simultaneous Second Language Learning, children under the age of 3 who are exposed to two languages at the same time or Sequential learners include children who have become familiar with one language, but are then introduced or required to learn a second language.
According to the above, why not learn languages? Even if it takes more to learn a language, particularly after puberty, the challenge is very beneficial. In the words of Doctor Manes: “helps to protect our brain, slows cognitive impairment, etc.”
Personally, it’s like being a high performance athlete. We need to train again and again to reach our goal: to learn another language and with constant practice and dedication “reprogram” our neural connections, maximizing the flexibility that has our brain to win the grand prize: communicate in another language. In a team or individually we can not forget that 80% of the process depends on our motivation and interest, having fun – just like kids again.
For more information about this topic: http://www.fluentu.com/blog/advantages-of-learning-a-foreign-language/ http://blog.ted.com/how-to-learn-a-new-language-7-secrets-from-ted-translators/ http://www.pbs.org/parents/readinglanguage/articles/introduce-kids-to-foreign-language.html