Why Learn Spanish at a Young Age?

Spanish is an easy and exciting language for children to learn. For their first 8 years, children are naturally acquiring language skills through observation. They learn primarily through imitation, repetition, songs, and games. After approximately 8 years, the mind and body of a child shifts, and learning a new language becomes more of an academic endeavor than a natural process.

Recent brain research using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has shown that the best time to learn a second language is at a young age because of a child’s brain plasticity. During this “sensitive period,” children can absorb the language and learn it with the proper accent. Exposure to another language also equips the brain to learn additional languages later in life.

In addition to developing a lifelong ability to communicate with people from other countries and backgrounds, other benefits include improved overall school performance and superior problem-solving skills (e.g., Bamford & Mizokawa, 1991; see discussion in Hakuta, 1986).

If children build a foundation in the Spanish language while they are young and uninhibited, they will carry a fundamental understanding of the culture and language including pronunciation, vocabulary, and phrases to take into their future.

“Kids who learn two languages young are better able to learn abstract rules and to reverse rules that they’ve already learned,” says Aamodt. “They’re less likely to have difficulty choosing between conflicting possibilities when there are two possible responses that both present themselves. They’re also better at figuring out what other people are thinking, which is probably because they have to figure out which language to use every time they talk to somebody in order to communicate.”

-Sandra Aamodt, PH.D & Sam Wang PH.D

Resources & Articles on Learning a Second Language

Two Guys on Your Head: Language

Are you an auditory learner or a visual learner?  If you answered “yes” you would be right. That’s because we use all our senses to learn and process information.

In this edition of Two Guys On Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Dukedispel the myths behind learning styles preferences: they don’t really exist. 

– Rebecca McInroy, KUT 2014

Two Guys on Your Head: Learning Styles

Can you remember what it was like for you to learn your native language?  Probably not, but why is that?

As humans, we begin learning to speak during the earliest stages of our lives, in infancy. Most people don’t have many accessible memories from this period of development. How do we do that?

If we can learn a language as infants, why is it so difficult to learn a second language later in life?

– Rebecca McInroy, KUT 2018

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