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  1. #1
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    Default When to start teaching English to youngsters

    I have a friend with a young daughter of nearly 3 years. They're Italian. She has learnt a few words of English from one of those CDs designed for early learners. My friend has asked me (because I teach English) at what age they should arrange lessons for her. Not having experience of teaching kids I couldn't give an answer. My question is then at what should we start to teach youngsters English as a second language (please, no answers such as 'as soon as possible' - as soon as possible and what?).

  2. #2
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    Default Re: When to start teaching English to youngsters

    Do they live in Italy or in Britain?

    If they live in Britain, the answer's easy: send her to kindergarten (when she's old enough), and she'll pick up English the natural way, and very quickly. By the time she's in school, she should be more or less bilingual.

    If they live in Italy, it really does depend on the child. The general rule of thumb is that young children learn languages much more easily than older children, although it varies greatly from child to child. As a general rule of thumb, it starts getting harder after puberty.

    Part of the problem is that very young children will learn at their own pace, and some will refuse to learn at all.

    I was once brought in to tutor a very bright four-year-old. The idea was that I would only ever speak English to her. It was to be money for old rope: I'd arrive, play with her for an hour and a half and get paid for it. Unfortunately, she was bright enough to work out exactly what I was trying to do and she thought it was a very mean trick, so that put paid to that idea.

  3. #3
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    Harry Smith is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: When to start teaching English to youngsters

    Quote Originally Posted by bartonig View Post
    I have a friend with a young daughter of nearly 3 years. They're Italian. She has learnt a few words of English from one of those CDs designed for early learners. My friend has asked me (because I teach English) at what age they should arrange lessons for her. Not having experience of teaching kids I couldn't give an answer. My question is then at what should we start to teach youngsters English as a second language (please, no answers such as 'as soon as possible' - as soon as possible and what?).
    I have some experience in teaching youngsters. My wife used to complain many years ago. It was in 1982. I didn't teach English to my 3 year old daughter. I couldn't teach her at home . So I went to her kindergarten and started giving English lessons to all the children including my daughter. Three months later I organised a party in English where the children sang songs, counted from 1 to 10, did sums, recited poems and of course spoke a little English. I was very happy. These children came to school soon and I taught them English there too. After finishing school they all could speak English fluently. So what can I say? Of course your friend can find an experienced teacher for her daughter but the lessons mustn't be longer than 20-25 minutes, otherwise she must be in a group of children.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: When to start teaching English to youngsters

    I had the good fortune of being one year younger than my brother. My parents supplied us with a great variety of comic books at a very early age. We were naturally impatient to connect the symbols in the white speech-bubbles with the action on the pages. I never recall pressure or encouragement from my parents, but they were readers, of books and newspapers, by example, and always made time to answer questions fully.
    And, naturally, I had to keep up with my big brother!

    I did not attend kindergarten since my military family moved frequently at that time. But upon entering the first grade my reading level was way ahead of schedule. The enjoyment associated with that first exposure to reading through those lively and imaginative comic books has remained with me throughout my life.

    Coincidentally, I attended my first and second grades at the Overseas School of Rome. My father was a USAF officer stationed at Ciampino air base. Not long after our arrival, my brother and I were regularly called upon to translate for our poor boneheaded adult parents. We lived outside of Rome in Grottaferrata and were essentially immersed among Italian children whenever we went out to play. After three years, we were nearly fluent. Sadly, a language once learned is almost entirely lost without maintenance. I took an introductory Italian course at university many years later and was astonished to find that no more than the numbers one throught ten had remained with me.

    ,

  5. #5
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    Default Re: When to start teaching English to youngsters

    Thanks all for your replies. So, it seems that 3 years is not too young but teaching should not be too formal and should be in a group if possible. I'll pass this on.

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