The topic concerning the best time for learning a second language has been coming up quite often on television or newspapers in Viet Nam. Among a number of options, one is that children should begin learning a new language from primary level of education rather than secondary level or later. It is obvious that there can be both positives and negatives when doing this. In this essay, I will be looking closely at both sides and try to draw some conclusion.
Let us begin by looking at the advantages of starting to learn another language apart from mother tongue from primary school instead of secondary school or later. The major one, in my opinion, is that children are at the best age to learn a new language. According to many reliable studies published recently on the operation mechanism of the human brain, the earlier children start learning a foreign language, the better they remember and understand thoroughly. Take my nephew, for example, he started learning English when he was only 6 years old, and now, although he is only 8, he can communicate confidently with an English person.
Turning to the other side of the argument, the main problem is that more academic burden will be added to children’s learning. Let’s consider the following case. In Vietnamese primary schools, pupils have to learn nearly ten subjects per week, so if they start to learn a foreign language at this level, they will not have much time to spend on other recreational activities. For instance, being required to learn in primary school all weekdays and English in two weekend days at an English centre, the 6-year-old daughter of my neighbour is often stressed and she usually cries when his father takes her to school.
All things considered, there can be obviously both pros and cons when starting to learn foreign language early. While that is the best age for children to learn a new language, a burden will be added to their learning. Personally, my conviction is that the benefits will ultimately outweigh the drawbacks. However, depending on the specific contexts, things can be different, and people’s decision should not always be based on a too extreme point of view.