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
A second language is a compulsory course in many countries; however, experts are not sure whether this subject should be set up in primary school or in secondary school. I believe that the former arrangement benefits children more.
Children in their early age pick up languages much more effortlessly than teenagers. Most linguists believe there is a critical period for children to acquire language. At that time, young children are likely to receive input from unfamiliar things, such as foreign reading material or recordings. Due to this trait, people can master another language quickly. A person, on the contrary, who has missed out on this vital chance may have difficulty in learning languages. For example, they may fail to understand grammar, remember vocabulary or imitate the accent of native speakers
Another advantage is that children can allocate more time and energy for learning languages in primary school. This is because the secondary school curriculum is tighter than that of primary school. Children hence need to absorb tremendous knowledge, as soon as they enter secondary school, and they may sacrifice their language learning time. For instance, Chinese students have to spend a massive amount of time to study new subjects, such as physics, chemistry and biology. In this case, their exposure to foreign languages may become insufficient, a factor which may lead to failure to acquire a new language.
In conclusion, I am convinced that young children’s innate abilities should be harnessed, and anything that contributes to language learning should be encouraged.