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The power of language and how it shapes early learners

"To learn a language is to open a door to a new world."

Languages are essential for preserving our traditions, history, and ways of thinking. They shape our identity, communication, and education, serving as the cornerstone of cultural heritage. Introducing language learning for preschoolers offers numerous advantages that extend far beyond simple communication. Early language acquisition enhances cognitive development, fosters cultural awareness, boosts academic achievement, and equips children with superior communication skills. Embracing multilingual education from a young age not only enriches individual growth but also contributes to building inclusive and culturally competent societies.

Why do Children Learn Languages More Effortlessly Than Their Adult Counterparts?


Children often learn languages more easily than adults due to several key factors:


1. Brain Plasticity: Children’s brains are highly “plastic,” meaning they are more adaptable and flexible. They have a natural ability to absorb and assimilate new information, including language, more readily than adults.

 

2. Immersion in Language Environment: Children are typically immersed in a language-rich environment from birth. They constantly hear and interact with language in various contexts, which facilitates their language learning process. 


3. Lack of Inhibition: Children are less self-conscious and inhibited than adults, which allows them to experiment with language freely. They are not afraid of making mistakes and are more willing to take risks in their language learning endeavors. 


4. Natural Learning Process: Secondary language learning for preschoolers happens because of natural exposure and interaction, similar to how they acquire their first language. They observe, imitate, and practice language in real-life situations, which enhances their language skills organically. 


5. Social Interaction: Children are social beings and often engage in language learning through social interaction with peers, caregivers, and educators. This interactive aspect of language learning promotes vocabulary acquisition and language fluency. 


When Does It Become Difficult for Children to Learn a New Language?

Language acquisition typically becomes more challenging around puberty, which generally occurs between the ages of 10 and 14. During this period, the brain undergoes significant developmental changes, and individuals may experience a decline in language learning abilities compared to the early years. Factors that contribute to learning a language in advance years are as follows: 

  • Less Immersive Language Exposure: Unlike young children who are often immersed in a language-rich environment, adolescents and adults may have limited opportunities for immersive language exposure. This lack of consistent exposure can hinder language acquisition and fluency.

  • Increased Cognitive Load: Learning a new language involves cognitive processes such as memory, attention, and problem-solving. As individuals age, their cognitive abilities may decline slightly, making it more challenging to manage the cognitive load associated with language learning.

  • Fixed Learning Strategies: Adolescents and adults may rely on fixed learning strategies that have been effective in their native language or other areas of study. These strategies may not be as conducive to language learning and may need to be adapted for effective language acquisition.

However, it’s important to note that language learning remains possible at any age with dedication and effort.

Benefits of Early Language Acquisition

Learning a language in the early years offers numerous advantages:

  • Enhanced Cognitive Development: Early language learning stimulates brain development, improving cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and memory. 

  • Improved Academic Performance: Children who learn languages early often perform better academically, demonstrating higher proficiency in subjects such as mathematics, reading, and science. 

  • Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity: Early exposure to different languages fosters cultural awareness, empathy, and respect for diversity, preparing children to thrive in an increasingly globalized world. 

  • Enhanced Communication Skills: Early language learners develop superior communication skills, including listening, speaking, and comprehension, which are essential for effective interpersonal communication and collaboration. 

  • Long-Term Career Opportunities: Proficiency in multiple languages opens doors to a wide range of career opportunities in an increasingly interconnected global economy. 

  • Increased Adaptability and Flexibility: Learning languages early equips children with adaptability and flexibility, enabling them to navigate diverse linguistic and cultural environments with ease. 

  • Cognitive Reserve: Early language learning builds cognitive reserve, which may help protect against cognitive decline later in life. 

  • Improved Executive Functioning: Language learning in the early years strengthens executive functioning skills such as attention control, impulse control, and task-switching.

Overall, language learning for preschoolers provides a solid foundation for lifelong learning, cultural competence, and success in a rapidly changing world.

Way Forward

Early language acquisition isn’t just about mastering words; it’s about crafting bridges of communication that span continents and cultures. It equips children with the tools to navigate the complexities of our diverse world with grace and understanding. So, at Dibber International Preschool and Nursery, as we nurture the linguistic talents of our youngest learners, we’re not just shaping their minds; we’re sculpting a future where dialogue knows no boundaries and where understanding reigns supreme. 

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