Second Language Learning Should Start Early

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May 10, 2018

  Want to learn to speak like a native? Start learning early. A new study published in the journal Cognition finds that to reach native-level fluency you should ideally start learning by age ten. We all know that learning a second language becomes more difficult as you get older, but this study suggests that language-learning abilities start to weaken around seventeen years old so it is best to start early to gain native proficiency. The paper suggests that those who start learning after age ten may become quite good at the language but may not reach full fluency.

  Critics of the study say it's never too late to start learning a language. In fact, they point to the cognitive benefits of learning a language later in life. They add that the study found that older learners may have difficulty mastering some of the grammatical minutiae, but they may still be able to communicate easily in the second language.  

  At Villa Madonna Academy, language learning starts in kindergarten. Students in kindergarten take French for half the year and Spanish for the other half. In first grade, they choose one language to focus on. Elementary students learn to understand and interpret both the spoken and written language of choice. They also learn about the cultures in French and Spanish-speaking countries.

  World language instruction continues in junior high (7th & 8th grade) with students taking high school level language classes. In high school, students have the option of taking Advanced Placement language courses. They also have the option to participate in our biennial France and Spain exchange program, and they may participate in our service learning trips abroad.   

  To learn more about the world languages at Villa, please contact Admissions Director Janet Baugh at