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Learning a 2nd language at a young age

February 21, 2013 2:24:27 PM PST
The key to be fluent in second languages is to make sure they start to learn when they're still in diapers.

All over the world, young children effortlessly pick up whatever language or languages they're exposed, but once children reach about the age of 7, it becomes much harder.

On the Upper West Side, tots at Planet Han are singing the months of the year in Mandarin, learning a new language.

3 year old Kenan Sato's mom says her son is learning English, Japanese and Mandarin.

"Right now is a good time. His brain is like a sponge, he learns very quickly and he has time," Sato said.

Young kids have a bilingual advantage because their brains are super receptive to soaking up different languages - spanish, french, mandarin, arabic.

"When you're young, you're just getting all the information in as it is. You're not adding any translation. You're not adding any background information you previously learned," Planet Han's Irene Coeny said.

Research funded by the National Institute of Health shows many bilingual kids are also better at multi-tasking.

New research in the Journal Nature shows babies around 7 months old are able to learn two languages with very different grammatical structures.

"It's through repetition. They're just naturally absorbing it. They are learning the grammar without even knowing it," Coeny said.

Angela hon says speaking a second language will open up a whole new world to her son, cal.

"Just like you would take a child to a playground or to a zoo i want to expose to different languages so he knows who he is and gets a better bearing on life," Hon said.

Knowing how to speak another language is also a good investment in a child's future.

"You are exposed to many more cultures and you know the importance of the countries so they just get jobs easier," Coeny said.

You can learn more about Planet Han at www.PlanetHanChinese.com or call 212-724-2421.

Global Language Project is a free summer program. You can learn more by emailing info@globallanguageproject.org or call 212-657-8075.

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