Out of the mouths of babes

9th March 2007 at 00:00
The best time for youngsters to learn another language is in the first two to three years of life, according to Antonella Sorace, professor of developmental linguistics at Edinburgh University.

She believes that, while learning a second language later on is not a waste of time, leaving it until a child is in P6 is too late - especially if it is only for 30 minutes a week.

"The brain has the highest receptivity for language in early infancy and childhood," Professor Sorace said in a Royal Society of Arts lecture in Edinburgh. "Children can acquire languages spontaneously and without difficulty.

"Bilingual children have a number of cognitive advantages: they have greater sensitivity to language, they play with language and their parents report they are ferocious readers."

Sue Walters, a lecturer in educational studies at Moray House in Edinburgh, complained that the education system did not value bilingualism. "The main focus is on the benefits of developing English, not on the merits of bilingualism which is seen as a problem, not a resource," she said.

Yet, 106 different languages were spoken in Scottish schools.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now