SEVERAL NOTEWORTHY QUOTATIONS

A second language HELPS THE COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BRAIN:

  1. Research suggests that learning a second language at an early age can enrich mental development. -BUSINESS WEEK- Edward Baig: BRINGING UP BABY - BILINGUALLY. 25 August 1997
  2. The learning of languages other than one’s own also provides a unique conduit to higher-order thinking skills. From the early stages of learning, students move from a representational knowledge base to comparison, synthesis, and hypothesis, all elements of higher-order thinking skills. - ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF POLITICAL & SOCIAL SCIENCE, C. Brown. 1994
  3. "When children are learning a new language they become more aware of how language functions," says Gisela Ernst, an associate professor of education at Washington State University. ... Studies have shown that children who receive even small amounts of second-language instruction are more creative and are better at solving complex problems. SMARTKID ON-LINE. July, 1997
  4. Students of foreign languages score statistically higher on standardized tests conducted in English. In its 1992 report, "College Bound Seniors: The 1992 Profile of SAT and Achievement Test Takers," the College Entrance Examination Boards reported that students who averaged 4 or more years of foreign language study scored higher on the verbal section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) than those who had studied 4 or more years in any other study area. -ERIC CLEARINGHOUSE ON LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS, K.Marcos. 1997
  5. Foreign language learning appears to enhance cognitive development and basic skills performance in elementary school children. .. . This idea that exposure to "foreignness" can lead to cognitive change was well known to Piaget; he believed that cognitive development takes place when a child is faced with an idea or experience that does not fit into his or her realm of understanding. - CENTER FOR APPL IED LINGUISTICS, H. Curtain. December 1990

A second language should be LEARNED AS EARLY IN LIFE AS POSSIBLE:

  1. We now know that if children are to learn to speak a second language like a native, they should be introduced to the language by age ten. Mastering an additional language is still possible after this point, but the window of opportunity for easy acquisition is gone. - YOUNG CHILDREN, J. Newberger: NEW BRAIN DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH, May, 1997
  2. Scientists argue that children are capable of far more at younger ages than schools generally realize. People obviously continue learning their whole lives, but the optimum "windows of opportunity for learning" last until about the age of 10 or 12, says Harry Chugani of Wayne State University’s Children’s Hospital of Michigan. ... Complex subjects such as trigonometry or foreign language shouldn’t wait for puberty to be introduced. In fact, Chugani says, it’s far easier for an elementary-school child to hear and process a second language - and even speak it without an accent. Yet most U. S. districts wait until junior high to introduce Spanish or French - after the "windows" are closed. -NEWSWEEK - S. Begley, YOUR CHILD’S BRAIN. 19 February 1996
  3. There is abundant evidence that the best time to learn a new language is relatively early in life. - PEDIATRICS - American Academy of Pediatrics. July 1995
  4. "We are born with a greater brain capacity than we actually utilize," says Pasco Rakic, professor of neuroscience at Yale University. "If connections that enable certain functions are not util ized, they are eliminated.." This process, called "pruning," makes the brain more efficient, but it can also preclude easy mastery of specific mental skills later in life. For example, the dendrites that support hearing continue to develop until around age 10, which is why young children pick up a second language so easily. After 10, the mental work is harder because they’re trying to learn another language with mental circuitry customized for English. - WORKING MOTHER, C. Jabs, YOUR BABY’S BRAIN POWER. November, 1996

THE YOUNG BRAIN SEEKS ORDERLINESS:

  1. It is common knowledge that the 'errors' a child makes when learning its native language consist of extending a pattern to an area of irregularity in the language. Like, "I doed it," "It’s funner!" "Two mouses, gooses, childs or tooths." With exposure to actual usage, the child’s logical words will become the illogical forms: did, more fun, mice, geese, children, and teeth., The problem is that there is no way to tell when to use which.
  2. Theoretical physicist Gordon L. Shaw at the University of California at Irvine noticed that babies like orderly music. Asked if the reason babies dislike jumbled-up Mozart means they prefer order to chaos, he said yes. That, along with our work on patterns, gave us the idea that maybe music is really tapping into an inherent structure in the brain. So, we ... predicted that early music training could exercise the brain’s inherent ability to form patterns and enhance spacial reasoning... - CHICAGO TRIBUNE - Interview by Ronald Kotulak. PERSPECTIVE. 24 May 1998

DRAWING A CONCLUSION FROM THE POINTS ABOVE:

An ORDERLY second language should be taught before age 10 to 12 years in order to perfect the brain, as well as to enhance communication skill. Because Esperanto has an orderly grammar, children can learn it in 2 years, compared to 6 years for other languages. It should be part of every language arts program.
Kent Jones
5048 N. Marine Drive, D6
Chicago, IL 60640
Tel: 773/ 271 - 8673
FAX: 773 / 561 - 6582
e - mail: kentjones9@aol.com

ADDENDA

"All American children must grow up fully proficient in English, and all should have the opportunity to learn an additional language as well. If they are to understand the nature of language, they must be exposed to a comparative dimension, i.e., to understand their own, they must see how another language functions. If the subject of 'language arts' is supposed to familiarize students with the structure of language, but the phenomenon of communication is examined from within the boundaries of only one language, the investigator can take no critical distance from the subject." Kurt E. Muller, LANGUAGE EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN

"Achieving proficiency in a foreign language ordinarily requires from 4 to 6 years of study and should, therefore, be started in the elementary grades. We believe it is desirable that students achieve such proficiency because study of a foreign language introduces students to non-English-speaking cultures, heightens awareness and comprehension of one’s native tongue, and serves the Nation’s needs in commerce, diplomacy, defense, and education." National Commission on Excellence in Education. A NATION AT RISK

"Research has documented that the study of a second language during the elementary years may positively affect the young child’s 'general school achievement and linguistic progress' (Donoghue, Potts, Smith). It can also promote superior progress in high school language study and may result in a significantly higher gain in mental maturity compared to that realized by non-FLES students during the same period (Brega, Donoghue, Vovolo). Learning a foreign language in elementary school also appears to promote language awareness. Robert J. DiPietro of the University of Delaware reports that 'the study of foreign languages does indeed help children learn to read better in English' (Kindig 64-65). Other benefits of second-language study include greater critical-thinking ability, better mental discipline, and more refined levels of mental dexterity( Wiley), and higher measures of flexibility and creativity (Jarvis)." Patricia Davis Wiley. A MODEL FOREIGN LANGUAGE EXPERIENCE PROGRAM FOR THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.


A COMPARISON OF RESULTS ON THE IOWA TESTS OF BASIC SKILLS

                   LEX Participants        Non-participants
Grade 3
Ability                  110                106
Vocabulary                 4.3                4.1
Reading Comprehension      4.5                4.1
Language Total             5.0                4.6

Grade 5
Ability                  111                108
Vocabulary                 6.1                5.8
Reading Comprehension      6.1                5.8
Language Total             6.6                6.1

LEX = Limited Foreign Language Experience

Gladys Lipton. THE PUBLIC LOVES FOREIGN LANGUAGES FOR CHILDEN