Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaching children of 4 a foreign language

It's in the news: one of our schools is going to teach children of 4 a foreign language: english.

I think it's a wise decision, even though I think a language shouldn't be taught at that age, but incorporated in daily games and toys.

Children of 4 and 5 need to play to discover themselves and the world. Teaching them fixed subjects will limit their future ability to deal with society.
A child who gets positive reinforcement from discovering and sking, will discover and ask later in life far more easy than a child that is taught to listen and absorp. But maybe that's what the government wants: childrne who don't think but do what they want.

I've raised my children in two languages, even the dyslectic children.
I'm bilingual myself and the joy that has brought me is great.
I've talked to people about subjects that are close to my heart without hesitance. And even though I know I make mistakes and don't know all the words, I can communicate and people understand me well.

It's not only about the words. It's about the feel each language has, and the ease young children develop the feeling for grammar.
I've benefitted a lot from that, and I see the same in my children.
Even the dyslectic ones are able to speak english fluently and when they have to write an english text they can talk to themselves and know what they should write down.

I used english as a language when I was alone with them.
When others were present we used Dutch.
Unless my english friends were here or we were at their home.

Some people say young children can't make the distinction between languages, but they can and they do.
Dutch and english are pronounced in a different way.
Dutch uses the front part of the mouth far more and has sharper sounds. So children feel the difference in their mouth.
And they certainly know the difference between different social situations.

Otherwise they wouldn't know that gram gives them a sweet before dinner and mom won't. :)
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