It is clearly understood that children learn languages faster and better than adults, but how many languages can children learn simultaneously? How does that affect the rest of their learning curves and development? As an American who has lived a significant portion of my life in other nations, and who continues to live outside the United States, languages are important to me. The choices I will make in teaching my children languages will have the ability to shape their lives in massive ways. All of their future interactions, cultural experiences, travel, and job opportunities will be directly influenced by which languages, and how many languages, I choose to teach them.
Should I make my choices based on how many speakers of each language there are, or base it on growing economic or political influence? Do I focus on languages based on future business opportunities? Perhaps I should try to stay within one branch of similar languages, or pick very different ones from each continent. With so much riding on these choices, there is the genuine fear to get something drastically wrong. At the same time, I don’t want to pick so many languages that the only childhood memory my children have is the constant jumble of language learning.
Experts generally agree that most children can handle learning up to 5 languages simultaneously without undue stress on the child. Not only that, but children that begin to speak the different linguistic elements of any given language before the age of 5, have an significantly higherability to develop a native pronunciation in that language. In addition, the early exposure to languages can have additional benefits in brain stimulation for language acquisition later in life.
The main difficulties in assisting polyglot children to be well rounded with multiple languages are providing consistency in learning and using each language. In some families each parent speaks a different language one on one with the child, and a different one when both parents are together, or one language in the home and another outside the home. Proficiency in languages for any child is determined by how much constant exposure the child has to the language and their preferential use of any language will be based on their need to regularly communicate in that language, or languages.Every child will develop at their own pace, but with consistency, planning, and careful juggling, they will develop language skills that can circumnavigate the globe.
Author: Christian Lingua