This Question Came to My Inbox: “Should foreign language instruction begin in kindergarten?”

Foreign language instruction should begin as early as possible. It is easier to learn a language when you are small than after you are grown. Sometimes all it takes is exposing the child to a language.

When I open my mouth and speak French, French people feel I am a native speaker, but I never went further than just basically learning to speak. However, French helped me learn all the other languages I have learned. Learning in elementary school was good for me. Photo by TravelingTart on Pexels.com

In Romania, they had what they called “English Kindergartens” that were actually nursery schools where the children played, and the teachers spoke only English to them. I thought it was an excellent idea! I learned French in elementary school, and even though I never studied French grammar, the French I speak will never leave me, and when I open my mouth, I sound like a native speaker. French became the foundation for all the other languages I studied, and I speak 6 languages.

My daughter was always in the garden eating strawberries, and she made a bond with the man who worked in the garden, but he didn’t speak English. It was okay because she learned to speak Romanian from him. Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

My daughter was speaking English and Romanian both while still a toddler, and it changed her life. I didn’t send her to one of those Romanian kindergartens. We were Americans in Romania, and there was a Romanian man who worked in our garden and a lady who helped with the housework who couldn’t speak English, and my daughter loved to spend her time in the garden. She and the guy in the garden became great friends, and both English and Romanian spouted out of her mouth as if they were both her first languages. She grew up with an understanding of language that others don’t have. She is on the highest level of Korean a foreigner can get, and she also speaks some Japanese. She could run circles around anyone with language, and it began by learning two in the beginning.

Japan understands as many other countries do that the younger the children are exposed to a foreign language, the better. Photo by Life of Wu on Pexels.com

When I was in Japan, my school used to send me to a classroom in back of a toy store. There were two year olds who came there with their mothers. It was my job just to read to the kids in English and play with them. I got down in the floor and played cars with the little boys. I played with the dolls with the little girls. I had huge books, and they all sat on their mother’s laps as I read, and they enjoyed it. A lot of countries understand that it is easier for very small children to learn a language than anyone else.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

We arrived in Morocco when my youngest brother was 2 years old. He hung out with our gardener. They were inseparable. My brother rode everywhere on the back of Yagoop’s bike. My brother and Yagoop spoke Arabic together, and as my brothers’ kids were growing up here in America, he spoke Arabic to his kids. His time in Morocco influenced the rest of his life. He never studied Arabic. He just spoke it because children learn what they are around, and the younger they are, the easier it is for them to pick it up. As for me, I didn’t study Arabic, but I can still understand some, and I surprise myself at times when I hear it spoken because I do understand. I learned without realizing it.

When the little girl from Yugoslavia came to Romania to visit her grandmother, I was extremely impressed by what she could do! She spoke two of the languages I speak, and she spoke them like a native speaker. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I knew an elementary school student from Yugoslavia. She was about in 2nd or 3rd grade. Her mother spoke Romanian and English. Her father spoke Yugoslavian and English. They had to speak English at home to communicate because neither knew the other’s first language. Their daughter spoke all three, Romanian, English, and Yugoslavian. She never had a lesson. Her grandmother wanted to learn to speak English, so she kept borrowing children’s books in English for her grand daughter to read to her and explain to her. Children can learn with just exposure because it is so much easier for them than adults, and they have a foundation that puts them far out ahead of everyone else.

When it comes to language, teaching children to speak a foreign language is the perfect time!! It is easier when they are young. You are giving them a real gift if you let them grow up speaking more than one language because language is harder for adults. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I could continue because I have seen what lots of kids do with language, and I say teach them a foreign language as soon as possible. You don’t even have to actually teach a class, just pay attention to them and speak to them in that language. They have a knack adults don’t have.

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