Nowadays in Hong Kong, pre-school children have to attend a number of different after-school activities and a second language is one of the most popular choices for parents. But is it good for the child to learn a second language at an early age?
Some researches have claimed that the sooner a child starts to learn a second language the better. It seems to make sense that the earlier you start, the more time you will have to learn and the more progress you will make compared with someone who started later. However, this is not the case, particularly if the second language comes to take the place of the first language, which has never been allowed to develop properly. It has been found that older learners of a language are more efficient learners, because they require less time to reach the same level of proficiency as young learners. Also, if more time is spent learning a second language during the school day, then other subjects must be reduced to make time for lessons, and the outcome may not be desirable.
So the best time to start learning a second language is early adolescence, at about 11 – 13. Children at this age are more motivated to learn new languages, and the result will become more successful.