Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school. Do the advantages of this outweigh disadvantages?
Starting in September 2014, learning a foreign language became compulsory for all primary school students in the UK, where the most spoken languages in the world originated from. In my opinion, the advantages of the primary students’ brain structure as well as the benefits of creating a better society and broadening student’s world view in early stage overwhelm its disadvantages.
First and foremost, children’s brain in primary age is suitable for learning a new language as their neurons are actively making new connections due to the still growing brain. On the other hand, secondary students’ brain are already fully or half matured, which makes new connections harder. What’s more, compared to science subjects, learning foreign languages is easier to establish neuron connections in their brain because it does not require extensive analytical mindset but still provide cognitive exercises for the growing brain. Hence, primary students may out shines to the other age groups.
On the other hand, teaching students foreign language at younger ages is killing two birds with one stone method as it alleviates the racism issues and improve the next generations’ competitive ability. Primary students are easier to accept friends from different races because of their pure characteristics and lack of mental barrier. Besides, the minorities races will gain the chance to blend in with others if their children make friends with other races. Eventually, they gain mutual understanding by sharing their culture among each other. When children came back from school, they share this mutual concept with their parents. Therefore, children represent a bridge for their parents to get known with each other well and resolve any misunderstanding.
In addition, during the process of learning a foreign language by writing, reading, speaking and listening, not only do students learn these four basic skills of a language but also get in touch with its culture. For example, in Chinese, my mother’s brother is called ‘Jiu Jiu’ and my father’s brother is “Bo Bo” while in English both of them are called “Uncle”. This shows that Chinese culture emphasizes in family bond and pronunciation as each of the family relatives has their specific naming method. As a result, as students are expanding their language skills they will also gain a broader view of the world’s culture.
However, the UK new education policy faces a major challenge which is the lack of qualified teachers. According to British newspaper, The Guardians, despite schools are given 8 years of preparation, school investment in foreign language training were interrupted and funds were reallocated into general school budget. Thus,teachers are not ready in teaching their students to learn well. Especially when students don’t get excellent results in a foreign language test, students may give up continuing their study in secondary stage. In order to solve this problems, policymakers can simply redirect the required financial aid to schools to make good use in teaching foreign languages. This cases shows that even equipped with the best nail in the world, without the right tools the nail remains unusable.
In conclusion, learning foreign language in an earlier education stage brings more benefits than harm because primary students’ neuron growth give them the dominance in language learning and solving racism issues, improve students global culture exposure at the same time. However, only students who are learning in a well prepared environment will fully use of primary students nature advantages. Otherwise, it will become a burden for students and teachers.