With about 6,500 different languages being used all over the world, the German language managed to secure its place as the 12th most commonly spoken language as of January 2021. This is to no one’s surprise as this language was chosen by experts as the fourth easiest language to learn, based on its grammar, spelling and pronunciation.
But just because the language was deemed easy by experts doesn’t mean that it’s easy for everyone. So, when it comes to learning German as a second or third language, when is the ideal time to start learning? Is it easy enough to start young?
According to researchers, 50% of our ability to learn is developed from as young as three years old and 30% when we reach eight years old. What this means is that we are capable of learning a lot at such a young age. And studies have also shown that the younger we are, the better we are at learning languages as it is easier for us to recreate new sounds and pronunciation at that age.
So if you’re wondering at what age you should send your child to learn a new language, experts say they can start at age six and achieve native fluency at age 10. Based on our 14 years of expertise, we believe that the best time to expose our children to a second language is from the age of 3 to 6 years old. Of course, this is fairly subjective, if your child is ready, they are ready!
Why is starting German young good for your child?
1) Better mental flexibility
Studies have shown that bilingual children have better mental flexibility. They can adapt to new rules and situations quickly and are more creative.
2) Learning German is easy
As mentioned before, the German language is the fourth easiest language to learn. Some researchers argue that young children find it easier to start with German as their second language before they embark on other languages because children tend to find difficult subjects easier. For instance, while some adults find it difficult to use new technologies in smartphones today, children have no trouble learning their way through these new technologies.
3) Develop cross-cultural understanding
When children are exposed to a different language from such a young age, they will eventually learn to embrace the different cultures and lifestyles that come with it. This will, in turn, allow them to make new friends from different countries and broaden their cultural horizons.
4) Opens up new opportunities in the future
When you put all of these benefits together, children will find themselves to be more confident in their skills and knowledge. And as we all know, mastering a different language opens up new opportunities in the future, such as studying or working in a foreign country.
How can parents help in nurturing the young ones to learn German?
1) Capture their interest with interactive learning materials
To generate interest from children, parents can start by exposing them to interactive learning materials such as movies, shows, or books that portray the joy of learning the German language and culture.
2) Set realistic goals
To encourage children to continue learning, parents need to set realistic goals. Consider the learning pace of each child and be sure to keep track of their progress. The one thing that parents should avoid is to overwork their children.
3) Be open to mistakes
Parents need to show their children that mistakes are inevitable and encourage them to learn from their mistakes, instead of punishing them. When parents create a supportive learning environment, this will further encourage children to continue learning.
4) Practise the language
One of the best ways to learn a new language is to practise the language with other people. For instance, parents should encourage their children to converse in the German language when they are at home. Another option is to organise an exchange programme with a German-speaking child so that their children can experience conversing with a native speaker.
In conclusion, young children are natural language acquirers; they are self-motivated to pick up a language without conscious learning. And if there is a right time for your little ones to start learning a new language—it is now.