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Should children be taught foreign languages from a young age?

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    I think systematic study of foreign languages (as opposed to picking up a second language because family members speak it) is a bad idea before 12. There's simply so much that primary school children have to learn, there's no way they can devote the amount of time and effort necessary to properly learning a foreign language - and not learning it properly (by not making clear grammar rules from the start, for example) can make it very difficult to go beyond averagely good language skills into fluency later on.

    Btw, I would consider myself bilingual (because I can understand and talk at native speaker level and I have no problems switching between languages) and I became fluent in my second language quite late (when I was around 16) after studying the language for a few years, but I know people who grew up in bilingual families who feel uncomfortable switching between languages and/or have very pronounced accents and make obvious grammar mistakes (in fact this is a constant issue in areas where large populations speak minority languages).
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    (Original post by RollerBall)
    Yeah, you're right mate. I'm clearly not a medical student, just like I'm the one having a hissy fit not you :roll:. I told you, in an argument it's not my duty to prove somebody else's point. The burden of proof lies entirely with them.

    You're correct, learning a skill will never disadvantage you, until you put it above other learning. You will have to sacrifice some area of the current curriculum to add in something like a foreign language, you can't just add and add. Given that we already have students who are leaving school unable to read/write or do basic maths why on earth would you even consider adding in other things that are not considered essential?

    I'm not really sure you're a medical student tbh based on how you're acting. Surely you don't just lap up everything your lecturers tell you without even attempting to look for proof for some of the more obscene links? There's this really cool thing called evidence based medicine we're supposed to be adapting to when we're in university. You would realise that actually a lot of neuroscience evidence is sketchy in current times and most particularly obtuse links between disease and environmental conditioning.

    Frankly, I find it quite amusing that you try to antagonise me with a pointless offensive remark and then descend into irrelevant drivel in the rest of your post, most of which is littered with aggressive tones.
    Ah poor diddums. Not sure about the aggressive tones, but apologies if I upset you.

    "You will have to sacrifice some area of the current curriculum to add in something like a foreign language, you can't just add and add"

    Why? Unless you happen to have something going on 24/7 then you can always add an hour or two of fun language learning a week.


    "Given that we already have students who are leaving school unable to read/write or do basic maths why on earth would you even consider adding in other things that are not considered essential?"


    I agree, but that doesn't mean other pupils shouldn't get the opportunity to learn languages from an early age.
    Improve core teaching in english and maths and give extra help to those struggling with the basics instead of immediately cutting other useful subjects.
    Or alternatively, those who struggle with maths/english could get extra help in this subject whilst the others do a language; this happens in some schools.

    "I'm not really sure you're a medical student tbh based on how you're acting."


    I never considered myself a good thespian.

    "Surely you don't just lap up everything your lecturers tell you without even attempting to look for proof for some of the more obscene links?"

    Hypocritial much? Instead of demanding sources to be given to me, I look them up on pubmed or other medical journal websites instead of expecting to be spoonfed the information/source.

    How am I supposed to provide you with the particular source which the other poster read?

    I merely mentioned earlier that there were lots of sources on google about links between language learning and alzheimers for you to look up since you seemed interested. Believe it or not, I was actually being helpful at the time.

    "There's this really cool thing called evidence based medicine we're supposed to be adapting to when we're in university"

    Relevance to this topic? This is research about links between a disease and a particular scenario, not making clinical decisions on treating the patient based on evidence...

    "You would realise that actually a lot of neuroscience evidence is sketchy in current times and most particularly obtuse links between disease and environmental conditioning."

    Well aware of that. Was just pointing out that a distinguished professor in neuroscience had mentioned it in a lecture coupled with the fact that there are numerous papers at the moment out there on the topic. Did not at any point say whether I believe it or not.

    "Frankly, I find it quite amusing that you try to antagonise me with a pointless offensive remark and then descend into irrelevant drivel in the rest of your post, most of which is littered with aggressive tones."

    Granted, the remark was below the belt. Irrelevant drivel though?! You should try rereading your last post!

    I've got lots of work to do, so as far as I'm concerned this is the end of the matter.

    Goodnight and bleet dreams.
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    (Original post by Lefse)
    I think it's a great idea to start learning languages earlier. I just wish I could have! I think being 11 is really too late. It might also stop us English being so lazy and expecting everyone else to put in the effort.
    I'm not sure it's as much about laziness and efficiency. There's no language Brits can learn that is as useful and valuable as learning English is to those in other countries. It's only natural that there is less motivation in the UK.

    I would actually advocate having some classes on International English in school; knowing how to speak to the huge number of non-fluent English speakers is an important skill for both business and travelling.

    Then, if it's felt that another language would be useful, I suggest offering a choice of Chinese and Arabic as these are languages with a large number of native speakers with no English. I don't know about Arabic but learning to speak Chinese is not considered that much more difficult than learning to speak French or German.
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    (Original post by Kolya)
    I don't know about Arabic but learning to speak Chinese is not considered that much more difficult than learning to speak French or German.
    I'm all for learning Arabic and Chinese, but these two languages are for English natives in NO WAY of the same difficulty as French or German. A lot of French vocabulary is the same/similar as in English (due to the Norman invasion), and German has a similar sentence structure and also lots of similar words (due to it being a Germanic language) Also the font is the same, I imagine learning Arabic and Chinese would be very time-consuming (somebody in this thread mentioned 10 years for Chinese letters and I believe it's true)
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    (Original post by Shadowplay)
    I'm all for learning Arabic and Chinese, but these two languages are for English natives in NO WAY of the same difficulty as French or German. A lot of French vocabulary is the same/similar as in English (due to the Norman invasion), and German has a similar sentence structure and also lots of similar words (due to it being a Germanic language) Also the font is the same, I imagine learning Arabic and Chinese would be very time-consuming (somebody in this thread mentioned 10 years for Chinese letters and I believe it's true)
    I mentioned speaking in particular for that reason. There aren't many similar words, but the sentence structure is similar and the grammar is much easier. Children shouldn't need much longer to learn spoken Chinese (and a romanization system) than French or German.

    It's kind of an important point because lots of people think that it will take much longer, and be much more of an investment of a student's time, and will argue against introducing the language on that basis. But it's not an argument based on fact.
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    (Original post by Kolya)
    I mentioned speaking in particular for that reason. There aren't many similar words, but the sentence structure is similar and the grammar is much easier. Children shouldn't need much longer to learn spoken Chinese (and a romanization system) than French or German.

    It's kind of an important point because lots of people think that it will take much longer, and be much more of an investment of a student's time, and will argue against introducing the language on that basis. But it's not an argument based on fact.
    But Chinese phonology is really different from English - it not only includes many sounds that English doesn't have, but it's a tonal language - which is something that confuses most adult language learners. French and German have only a few sounds that aren't also present in English (in French, for example, different kinds of e are especially hard to pronounce for language learners).
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    (Original post by andyyy)
    But Chinese phonology is really different from English - it not only includes many sounds that English doesn't have, but it's a tonal language - which is something that confuses most adult language learners. French and German have only a few sounds that aren't also present in English (in French, for example, different kinds of e are especially hard to pronounce for language learners).
    Right, which is why it's slightly more difficult to learn despite having a grammar that is far easier to learn.
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    (Original post by Kolya)
    Right, which is why it's slightly more difficult to learn despite having a grammar that is far easier to learn.
    It took me just a couple of days to memorise out the difference between -in, -on, -an, -en, to remember that final -e is silent, and that they connect their final consonants to the next word... French pronounciation is not that difficult as it's made out to be. Chinese is definitely harder and not that logical to Europeans.
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    (Original post by Niels!)
    I'm an avid supporter of being taught languages from a relatively young age. Here in Belgium we are taught French from primary school and later on English and German (Spanish optional). Being fluent in multiple languages has helped me a lot during the past few years (travelling, traineeships, papers) also it makes you more valuable for future employees and might give you that edge over another person when trying to land a job. In other words, can't start early enough with languages!
    Whilst I agree with you, I have one pedantic question. Isn't German an official language in Belgium anyway? Round the Eiful area?
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    (Original post by Joe-89)
    Fairly useless, as both are exactly the same in French

    I agree that 6 is probably a good age to start, but I think it'd be better for them to develop a sense of the structure and grammar of the language rather than just vocabulary.

    Particularly with French, an English speaker can often "guess" their way through vocabulary once they have a grasp of the language and its structure, as well as a sense of which English words are likely to be of French origin (as so many English words are).
    To be fair, I was just giving examples of words in English that a child aged 6 would probably know. Also, I did mention earlier in my post about the grammar/structure - ie once they've learned a bit of grammar/structure in English, they should be able to use and apply it to French, so you're learning the same thing at the same time for both languages, and thus it should make it a little easier to remember and use. Vocab is important though, you might know how to structure a great sentence but without good vocab it might not be at such a high level.

    The reason I used French as an example is because a) it was the first foreign language that I learnt academically, b) the fact that French and English are relatively similar is a good thing as it makes both languages easier to learn, and c) once you've learnt French, you should be able to pick up Italian and perhaps Spanish fairly easily. I studied French and German to GCSE level (Spanish wasn't an option) and got A* in both, however there was a difference in the amount of years of study (we did French from year 7 and German was an option as of year 9) and also I found French much easier to learn than German. I did do a business language course in Italian in my AS year and I found that quite easy because of its similarity to French.

    If you were going to start at 6 then I think French is a good one to start with, perhaps introduce Spanish/Italian in year 3 and the other in year 5 - so that by the end of primary school you at least know a little bit of 4 different languages? Not sure on the practicalities of that, perhaps make it a tiered system - those who are doing well at English and French do the 2 other languages, those who are at intermediate level should do only one other, and the ones who are struggling just stick with those 2 - that way everyone would leave primary school with at least a semblance of 1 foreign language.
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    (Original post by HpFreak_Amy7192)
    To be fair, I was just giving examples of words in English that a child aged 6 would probably know. Also, I did mention earlier in my post about the grammar/structure - ie once they've learned a bit of grammar/structure in English, they should be able to use and apply it to French, so you're learning the same thing at the same time for both languages, and thus it should make it a little easier to remember and use. Vocab is important though, you might know how to structure a great sentence but without good vocab it might not be at such a high level.

    The reason I used French as an example is because a) it was the first foreign language that I learnt academically, b) the fact that French and English are relatively similar is a good thing as it makes both languages easier to learn, and c) once you've learnt French, you should be able to pick up Italian and perhaps Spanish fairly easily. I studied French and German to GCSE level (Spanish wasn't an option) and got A* in both, however there was a difference in the amount of years of study (we did French from year 7 and German was an option as of year 9) and also I found French much easier to learn than German. I did do a business language course in Italian in my AS year and I found that quite easy because of its similarity to French.

    If you were going to start at 6 then I think French is a good one to start with, perhaps introduce Spanish/Italian in year 3 and the other in year 5 - so that by the end of primary school you at least know a little bit of 4 different languages? Not sure on the practicalities of that, perhaps make it a tiered system - those who are doing well at English and French do the 2 other languages, those who are at intermediate level should do only one other, and the ones who are struggling just stick with those 2 - that way everyone would leave primary school with at least a semblance of 1 foreign language.
    Haha yeah I know sorry I was just nitpicking .

    Vocab is important, of course, but I think that is also (fairly) easily picked up by adults as well as children, whereas young children often excel at picking up basic language structure. I know that you didn't suggest that they should only be taught vocabulary (sorry if it came across that way), I just meant to say that I think that structure should be given much more emphasis than vocab in early years.

    I also found French much easier than German (which I unfortunately dropped before GCSE).
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    i think they should
    there are many studies into the way kids learn languages
    if the 2 languages are separated or categorised the children should not confuse them or have a lesser capability in one than the other
    for example if the mother only speaks to the child in one language and the father only speaks to the child in the other the child will learn both languages without getting confused
    i wish my parents had brought me up bilingual

    it's also been shown that children find it significantly easier to learn new languages than adults so surely the younger you start the better?
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    It is necessary to face the facts: in fifty years' time, there is an extremely strong chance that English will not be the lingua franca in international business, science, technology and aviation. As an earlier poster has indicated, that language will probably be Mandarin; therefore, we are putting this generation of youngsters at a disadvantage by not teaching this language which will be extremely important in the future. It is both naive and arrogant to assume that English will continue to be spoken world-wide, and the fall of French as the dominant world language in the 20th century proves that languages can - and do - alter in their position in the world.

    However, in order to ensure that school children are able to understand foreign languages, there must be a drastic change in the way grammar is taught in English schools. Currently, the level of understanding of its most basic elements is very low, which is a clear reflection of the fact that the current standard of teaching is not good enough. In my French A-Level class, there are many classmates who are unable to comprehend the basic concepts without having a solid base of English grammar, and I cannot imagine that arguably more complex languages such as Arabic, Mandarin et al will be learned efficiently with a lack of knowledge on the likes of infinitives, clauses etc.

    On top of that, by teaching children a foreign language at an early age there is an increased chance that they will be able to remember it later in life because of the ongoing cerebral development. It has been discovered that if a child has at least some awareness of a foreign language by the age of 10 years old, they are at a significant advantage compared to those who remain monolingual (Chugani, 1996).
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    Yes, because when you teach a language you can teach a lot of other things with it, like history, art and world cultures.

    Learning Spanish has helped my English. For example, I learnt a new word for building (edifice) because of the word edificio (building in Spanish).
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    (Original post by Isambard Kingdom Brunel)
    Jeez, do the Government think we are all working class heroes who will only holiday in Calais or a Rhine cruise or summat? :mad:
    I LOLed
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    (Original post by No Man)
    Yes. Languages here should be taught in the same manner that English is taught in places like the Netherlands and Scandenavia, so that it pretty much becomes a language that they're more or less as fluent in as their mother tongue.
    How do they do it?

    And if you're talking about how the influence of English-dominated media, what about learning languages such as French, German and Spanish?
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    (Original post by Vérité)
    It is necessary to face the facts: in fifty years' time, there is an extremely strong chance that English will not be the lingua franca in international business, science, technology and aviation. As an earlier poster has indicated, that language will probably be Mandarin; therefore, we are putting this generation of youngsters at a disadvantage by not teaching this language which will be extremely important in the future. It is both naive and arrogant to assume that English will continue to be spoken world-wide, and the fall of French as the dominant world language in the 20th century proves that languages can - and do - alter in their position in the world.
    No it will not. How the hell will a language which doesn't even have the Roman alphabet be the lingua franca in a few decades time? Are you really expecting native English speakers to learn Mandarin in schools, when England already does a poor job of teaching Romance languages?

    Mandarin will never the the lingua franca - ever. It's easier for the Chinese to learn English than for us to learn their language.
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    (Original post by Shadowplay)
    It took me just a couple of days to memorise out the difference between -in, -on, -an, -en, to remember that final -e is silent, and that they connect their final consonants to the next word... French pronounciation is not that difficult as it's made out to be. Chinese is definitely harder and not that logical to Europeans.
    That's what I said. French pronunciation is easier; Chinese grammar is easier. Overall, learning to speak French is slightly easier but it's not a huge gulf.
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    Personally I think that English becoming a universal language is a good thing, because it connects the world and removes language barriers. People might want diversity and culture to stay alive, but if you think about it cultural imperialism isn't such a bad thing if it is the solution to international unity. I mean, how many people all over the world make fun of other people's accents/ dialect/ inability to speak a certain language? If there was one standard language for everyone, those boundaries would disappear.
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    You might be thinking but I worked hard, did everything right why should I worry about it when I did everything right? Right, but everyone else in the world did that. But perhaps inadvertently you enjoyed cheap imported products that put us in trade deficit, you enjoyed security and peace of mind of high dollar, and you are accustomed to high standard of life thousands more just like you around the world never had. And in right mind what makes you think you deserve all that? Why am I talking about rest of the world then they are ****holes? Cus you take from them with nothing in turn, besides IOUs.

    Bottom line: If you don't wanna pay taxes don't drive on highways, don't send your kids to school, don't buy from walmart, don't call police, don't use any of the services tax money afforded and benefited. Don't use the dollar which puts USA in debt which you don't wanna pay.

    -But I didn't do anything wrong!
    -Damn right you did. You ever go to public school? Ever drove on highway? Ever felt safe cus of miliary/police? Ever thought groceries were safe cus of USDA? Ever took FDA approved pills? Ever took advantage of Walmart's cheapness etc etc...

    -But I made my money the legit way!
    -The over supplied money Alan Greenspan encouraged with low interest rate? Which got us into current crises? Well there you go.

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