Learning A New Language: What Does Research Say?

Someone who can speak the language of his nation can communicate well. But someone who knows how to speak English can communicate anywhere. This is why a lot of people try to learn the English language by having private lessons, tutorials, or visiting English-speaking countries, etc.

Other people opt to learn other languages aside from English. The usual other languages that people want to study is Spanish, French, Mandarin, German. But of all these languages, statistical research shows that Mandarin is the most spoken language in world. It's probably because China has the most number of people. It topped Spanish, which is the former most spoken language in the world.

What research tells people about learning a new language is that when leading a child to learning a new language aside from the language of his nationality, some precautions must be taken. Children must not be introduced to a new language before they become proficient in their home language because he might end up not being proficient in both. If these children lose their home language, they may find communicating with their family and relatives rather difficult. They might lose connection to their roots and they might feel that they do not belong. This is a rebellion, stubborn indifference, insecurity and emotional instability waiting to happen.

Maintaining a child's home language is thus important. However, research also says that if a poor child (meaning the family is financially challenged) does not learn any other language skills, then he will most probably not be able to catch up with the others. What usually happens is that as early as the kindergarten, his classmates are likely to be bilingual already - speaking their home language and also English or Spanish or the like.

They key here is to know when is the most appropriate age for a child to be proficient in both, because further research would say that children who achieved proficiency at an age that's appropriate, they get academic advantage. The bottom line is that a child must be taught a second language by the time he is in Pre School, but he must also have achieved proficiency is his home language by this time.

There is a situation presented during research with regard to children with disability learning another language, for example English. The issue presented was the possibility that if a child in Pre School or in the primary level of education does not know how to speak English, or is not proficient in it, he might be labeled as someone with disability.

When before proficiency in English at a very early age is an advantage for a child as long as he is already proficient in his home language. But since almost everybody has been achieving this with all the classes available outside the class, tutorial services, online classes, etc., a child would naturally look some sort of dumb when he has not reached this level by the time everybody is already there. The teacher is commissioned to find this out so that necessary actions could be taken. There are cases that a child can actually speak English but because of shyness, passivity and nature of not speaking too much, others may construe that as not being able to speak the language. The teacher and the parents must give this child encouragement so that he eventually speaks up and practice the two languages that he knows.

The other issue is that it is a common mistake that people think children with disability cannot learn two languages. It is the duty of the teacher to give these children the opportunity to learn.

  1. Language Policy: Bilingualism and Intelligence