Reply To: Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school.
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University: Tianjin University
Mastering a second language is a necessary step for many students, and some are convinced that children should start learning language in primary school. Though this arrangement may cause some problems, I still think it can provide a firm grounding for their development.
The first advantage is that young children pick up languages more effortless than teenagers. Most linguists believe there is a critical period for humans to acquire language, as their brains facilitate the entire process. In contrast, people who have missed out this crucial chance will have difficulty in leaning languages. For example, they may fail to understand grammar, remember vocabularies, or imitate the accent of native speakers
Next, the curriculum in primary school is looser than in secondary school. Students will absorb tremendous knowledge as soon as they enter secondary school, thus may spend less time on learning languages. For instance, Chinese students need massive time to study new subjects, such as physics, chemistry, biology, as well as homework. On that occasion, their exposure to foreign languages will be insufficient, thus resulting in a failure to language acquisition.
On the other hand, learning another language too early may bring about some issues. It may burden well-off families. Some people can invite personal English teachers to help their sons or daughters, but that is unaffordable to deprived families. Even if they did it, it would probably be an extra and heavy expenditure, because people who live on a tight budget will not go aboard and use foreign languages.
In a word, though this policy is not suitable for all students, I think anything that contributes to language learning should be encouraged.