The importance of language learning at an early age
Early childhood research has shown that the ability to learn languages is at its peak between birth and 6 years of age. Shortly after, the ability to learn a language quickly diminishes. This is largely due to neurological changes occurring during this critical period. The brain of a young child has twice as many connections, called synapses, than an adult. If these synapses are not refined and strengthened, they disappear through a process called pruning and can never be reestablished. Therefore, a young child’s mind figuratively “soaks up” information and can easily learn not only one, but several languages.
For more information about early language acquisition and research, visit the following organizations:
- Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)
- Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)
- National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL)