Early language learning directly and positively affects the academic and personal development of children. Introducing foreign languages at a young age, preferably before the age of 12, can result in faster language learning, improved mother tongue literary skills, and better performance in other areas.
Because of this, European Union heads of state or government called, in March 2002, for “at least two foreign languages to be taught from a very early age”.
Early language learning can take place within a multilingual family or as part of pre-school education. Long-term positive effects include:
- uninterrupted, long-term language instruction
- labour market advantages
- greater self-esteem
- better knowledge and understanding of other cultures
However, an early start does not guarantee better results. It must be combined with effective teaching methods that focus on listening, and spoken skills, delivered by appropriately trained teachers. Equally important are small classes, adequate resources and fun language learning techniques.