Early too bad?

I write for the first time in three weeks. That means I’m still alive and I know you missed me, my friends. Because I missed you so much.

So let’s get down to business.

I want to talk about very important thing.

Today there are a lot of Russian kindergartens where 2-3-year-old kids are taught English. This language learning program is called “Early English”. Of course, those classes are not so frequent (2 days per week).

I used to think it’s too early to study a second language at the age of two. Some of them hardly even speak Russian. Parents complain that their kids start mixing the two languages that sounds like “хочу green яблоко” or “белый kitten” (that is quite similar to the way Russian tourists communicate abroad).

But is switching between languages really that bad?

A recent study has shown that your brain doesn’t forget early language experiences. Hearing foreign words at such a young age builds neural connections that will help you process and learn foreign languages in the future.

According to the study, “neural representations acquired during the earliest stages of development are maintained across time even in the absence of continued exposure to the source of that information”. In other words, even if children stop speaking the language, neural pathways of the brain are maintained and adapt over time in response to new language environments.

If I am talking to my kids (I have no them yet) only in English during their first 3 years of life, will they be more proficient at language learning than their peers?

And in that case, what is the likelihood that my kids will hate me when they learn that they actually live in Russia and they need English just for cognitive development?


39 thoughts on “Early too bad?

  1. As a language teacher with a 10 month baby who gets talked to in Romanian, English and German, I can tell you it’s okay to hear more languages. He understands both Romanina and German when I tell him simple stuff. And he has that wise look on his face LOL

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I imagine that would be quite a shock for your kids to find out that the language they’ve learned is not their mother tongue, even though their mother taught it to them. Might make for a good practical joke though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmm. Idk. I didn’t learn English until I was 9 and it only took one year for me to learn it enough to talk and understand people. Of course I’ve gotten better at it, but I do remember being in kindergarten and being taught English. Lol. Not sure how I’ll go about it with my son…. 😐

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A friend of mine said that kids can learn up to 7 different languages easily, I say more power to them, I’m bilingual and would like to acquire a third language.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Good post Marta. Welcome back! My nephew is a hybrid of a Singaporean and a German, born in New Zealand. He learnt both English and German. Unfortunately, he failed to master Mandarin, which is useful now for trade or commercial reasons. In my own experience, starting at 2 years old to learn a language may or possibly be a bit late based on my nephew’s end result.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!
      It’s probably too late to start learning a language at 2, if the parents are native speakers of the language. What can stop them from talking to the baby? 🙂 But our kindergartens can’t provide an earlier program.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I wish I started learning Russian earlier! There is also a lot of studies going on right now about how being bilingual prevents Alzheimer’s!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have little cousins in the Philippines who were “forced” to learn English since birth. Now, those who take care of them have broken English, and they could only talk to each other. They sort of mixed up languages (and even dialects). Other kids who know English well can’t understand my cousins that well. That includes me. My cousins viewed Tagalog, the native language, as a ‘poor man’s tongue’ which I think is really sad. They couldn’t fully appreciate the Philippine
    culture even though they live in the Philippines. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Marta, this is an interesting study. I speak over 250 languages with my google translator but apparently the native speakers can’t understand my google accent. If only google had been in my crib next to the bottle. I might have one heck of a neural network. Children seem to always pick up another language quicker than adults. It could be that beer and vodka actually impede language learning in adults although I have observed drunks that speak different languages still understand each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Daniel! I think you can predict the future. Twenty years later there will be bottles with built-in google translators =) Both newborns and drunks will be highly satisfied with this invention.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. A friend of mine speaks Portugese to her two young children. They understand both Portugese and English but choose to answer in English (their first language) I think it is excellent! The only issue I have is when a child doesn’t understand the language they will use most well enough to be understood

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was trying to talk to a Russian tourist in Truro (Cornwall, Britain) in my fractured Russian. When I ran out of Russian (it doesn’t take long; it was never great and it’s gotten rusty over the past 50 years), I switched to English for the last half of the sentence. We both burst out laughing. I have no idea if she understood the English half, but we shared a sense of humor and that was more than enough.

    I enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Why not mix? Language is simply how we communicate, so why not just do whatever works? I wish I’d been introduced to different languages earlier, I might be a whole lot better at them now than I am!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have heard that kids can learn up to three languages simultaneously.
    I myself was surrounded by 3 languages. My cousins grew up with leaning English in school, German with their mum and Urdu with dad. So, the best thing is to try it out for example, by getting the children to watch the muzzy cartoons in a couple of languages.
    Also, the brain absorbs information like a sponge until the age of 13. So, why not make the most of it?😁

    Liked by 1 person

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