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Poll: Should kids learn new languages at a younger age?

Photo Credit: Kidsday staff artist / Casey Chung, Wheatley Heights

For many school districts, learning a language is part of the school curriculum, but as a result of taking a language for only a few short years, many kids lose their ability to communicate in that language.

It’s important to be bilingual, but because we forget the new languages that we learn in school, many people worldwide believe a good way to solve this problem would be to teach another language to kids at a younger age, or younger grade levels. Younger kids are able to absorb languages much quicker and easier, so it makes sense to start learning another language as early as possible. This year our school district began offering elementary school second-language classes in Spanish.

I surveyed 246 ninth-graders to find out their thoughts about learning a second language starting in elementary school:

Teach languages at younger ages: 148

Teach when students are older: 98

I asked students to elaborate on their answers. Some of their responses were: “If we start at a younger age, then we will be able to learn faster because our brains are still growing, allowing us to absorb more information,” and “I think one language is enough, and kids should be able to wait until seventh grade so that it’s easier instead of starting in elementary school.”

Which side do you agree with?

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