When should children start learning English?

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When should children start learning English?

Unread postby northerngirl » 30 Aug 2011, 15:44

Hi, I'm hoping you can help. There is a debate here where I live about when children should start learning English. With regards to studying the Junior A course some people feel that 2nd grade (7yrs) is a suitable time to start wheras others feel that the children should have at least started the 3rd grade (8yrs). Any advice you can give me woud be much appreciated.
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Re: When should children start learning English?

Unread postby luisinka » 28 Dec 2011, 12:54

Hi. I think that opinions on the best age to start differ from place to place. But as a primary English teacher in the Czech Republic, I support the idea of starting in the 1st class (6years) in a playful way - songs, games, vocabulary (once a week). It can be a good basis for later learning. In the 2nd class we start writing individual words (also afternoon class once a week) and from the 3rd class pupils have proper English classes 3times a week. But it does not have to be good for all children. When they have big difficulties even with their mother tongue, I would not force them to start with English immediately. For those the 3rd grade can be better. So I think that 1,2 grade optional and from 3 obligatory is suitable.
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Re: When should children start learning English?

Unread postby neverstopped » 07 Feb 2012, 13:22

For those the 3rd grade can be better. So I think that 1,2 grade optional and from 3 obligatory is suitable.


I agree. The student should be able to fully grasp their own language before introducing another. It's a different kettle of fish when the child grows up multilingual, of course.

I've seen instances where English is taught in Kindergarten. I don't think it has to be detrimental, but I also don't believe that it makes a big difference in the over all learning process. 3rd grade is definitely suitable for all; any earlier instances should be dependent on the individual child.
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Re: When should children start learning English?

Unread postby pokedmund » 08 Feb 2012, 02:21

Depends on where you live. I live in HK where we speak three languages (Cantonese, Mandarin and English).

The native language is Cantonese, followed by either Mandarin and English (dependent on how the government wants to take language education in the future)

So, when we have English intergrated into our daily lives/education, HK people start to teach their kids English from birth (but Cantonese is their first language)

The results I've seen have been hit and miss.

Most students reject English and speak their native language.

I've seen a very tiny amount of students (from 3 years upwards) who are able to speak fluent Cantonese and English dialects (probably 1 in every 20 students). They literally change language when they speak to me and their parents. It's amazing to see!

And then, I've seen some kids who have rejected their native language (Cantonese) and only speak English!
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Re: When should children start learning English?

Unread postby neverstopped » 08 Feb 2012, 09:23

Wow, that's really a different point of view! Thanks for the input! I was really only thinking of my own experience living in a country where we have only one main language.

I've also seen parents who come from other countries trying to let their children speak the native language. They are often imperfect in both languages. They can communicate, of course, but often have problems with grammar and spelling, because the earliest contact they had with the language here was from their parents, which didn't speak it perfectly either. Learning English in addition to that often proves even harder because of the lack of understanding of the language their teacher uses.

So I'm wondering, do the parents in HK who teach their children English from an early age speak English fluently? Do they speak it with their children in daily life or do they have teaching sessions while normally speaking Cantonese? Certainly it differs from case to case. So I'm just interested in the "general" case or what you think outweighs the other.
Interested to learn more about that :)
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