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 three Key Factors for Success in Language Learning for Children & Adults

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htyth

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Bài gửiTiêu đề: three Key Factors for Success in Language Learning for Children & Adults   Sat May 28, 2011 8:49 am



A number of factors influence anyone's success at mastering a new language. Such a complex process necessarily has many contributing causes and elements. However, we at Early Advantage have seen three factors repeated time and again in the advice and the research surrounding second language learning—immersion, consistency and an early start. These three aspects of the language-learning process are key for your child to secure a strong foundation for acquiring a second language and grow into it enjoyably and productively.

Immersion: An immersive environment is critical for learning a language quickly and in a manner which lasts. Immersion means all or nearly all the verbal—auditory or visual—inputs you receive are in the language you are trying to learn, from simple directions to answers to your questions. Immersion is therefore very different from what most of us have experienced, usually a classroom where promptings in English were the ready answers if we stumbled over our new words or sentences.

Immersion seems like it could be too ambitious for a child, but being immersed in a language is good because it encourages you to notice all forms of communication, including non-verbal ones like body language or pictorial signs, and to engage a number of different parts of your brain simultaneously. It encourages you to drop the habit of forming your thoughts in your native language, translating them, and then trying to get them out of your mouth in one piece. Wouldn't it be simpler just to think in your new language? And if you think that may be too much for children, remember that they didn't learn their first language in any other manner.

Immersion is important because it teaches children the value of context. Language occurs in context, and learning how to "read" context is as important as learning how to read words. This is true not just for writing and for speaking, but for listening and following directions, learning new things, and the long and wonderful process of mastering a language.

Consistency: Consistency, meaning a persistent exploration of language, is the second key to language-learning because the process of getting familiar with a language is a lot like becoming familiar with a city or town—a friendly one, to be sure, with lots of playgrounds.

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As in getting to know a city, exploring a language only every once in awhile doesn't get you very far. Knowing a few main avenues may be helpful and may get you around alright, but only consistent travel through the many neighborhoods and side streets of a city will give you access to the best routes and the hidden gems of the area. Without consistent exploration, you can feel turned around if you diverge from your customary path; with it, getting off track just adds to what you already know!

Consistency is essential for language learning because a language is something that grows, not something that can be cut up and memorized. Because it grows, returning to previous lessons isn't just repetition, but an expansion. Learning occurs not just when a new word is encountered, but when a new context for an old word is discovered, or a new way of using an old word is found. The important thing is to keep your new language with you and not let its charming neighborhoods and side-streets fall out of sight.

Early Start: Not only is there a wealth of scientific research and reports on the benefits of starting a second language at a young age, but it also just makes sense. When you are young, you're learning so much that the "foreignness" of a second language doesn't faze or intimidate you—in a sense, no language is "foreign" to a young child. Children are experimenting with all kinds of noises as well, and are less set in their ways in terms of which sounds they use.

Children are also less self-conscious that they're "learning" something when they're experiencing a new language, and that lack of self-consciousness can mean greater boldness and more resilience if they make a mistake. Children try out new words often—in their first language. Mistakes are just a natural part of that eager experimentation.

Starting early also gives children greater time to see the effects of consistency and immersion blossom and build upon one another. Starting younger means children have greater room to grow into both their first and second languages, and more opportunities to see them side-by-side. This side-by-side experience encourages your child to think in more complex ways and see more nuance both in the world and in language. We all know how vibrant synonyms can make language for even a monolingual speaker. When we learn the slight differences of meaning words take on in different languages, we discover that there are different ways of seeing and experiencing a single thing.

Immersion. Consistency. Early Start. These three things aren't the only ingredients for a successful language experience—your child is too unique for that!—but they are elements that have worked, and worked in combination, for thousands of parents and their children. They form a strong and effective trio, and help you and your child embark on a brilliant new journey through language.
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Bài gửiTiêu đề: Re: three Key Factors for Success in Language Learning for Children & Adults   Sat May 28, 2011 8:50 am

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three Key Factors for Success in Language Learning for Children & Adults

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