Research clearly points to the benefits of starting language study early. Our Montessori full day students go to French or Spanish class for four days per week. Students in grades one through eight take French or Spanish five days per week.
Why Start World Language Study in Elementary School?
Early learning of a second language develops a lifelong ability to communicate with more people. Children who begin a second language at an early age also show improvement in overall school performance and superior problem-solving skills. Dr. Susan Curtiss, Professor of Linguistics at UCLA who studies the way children learn languages, notes that in language development there is a window of opportunity in which the child learns his first language normally. After this period, the brain becomes less ‘plastic’ and by adolescence the brain cannot easily develop a language system. Beginning a romance language at age four or five is a perfect time to take advantage of the child’s capacity to learn. Learning any romance language allows easy transference to another romance language later on.
Learning another language makes a student think about his first language which improves his understanding of the native tongue. In fact, all language studies are enhanced by knowing other languages. Speaking a second language improves knowledge of world geography, history, international cultures and many other social studies. People who speak a second language have a whole different perspective of the world and how cultures interact. This open-minded awareness results in a clearer global picture and in sharpened thought processes.