Master English: bet on linguistic immersion

Learning a language in the earliest childhood is a guarantee of success. The brain is prepared, not only for the acquisition of new words in the mother tongue and in different languages, but above all it is particularly easy master the nuances of pronunciation which are handled in each one. Parents have become fully aware of this circumstance and, not without effort, we try to bring our children to the English, because the previous generation, ours, did not pay enough attention to this aspect and today pays the consequences.

Many schools have focused attention on this issue and try to adapt their structures to give the more English and earlier the better. Foreign centers become fashionable while bilinguals to a greater or lesser extent extend among the public, private and arranged. And the one that does not reach this level, seeks to complement as much as possible their language offer.

Master English, when we have arrived late

But what happens if we are late? What happens if, for whatever reasons, our children have reached adolescence without the necessary skills in second language? Should we throw in the towel? Have we condemned them to a life without English that seems bound to unfailingly lower possibilities? Absolutely. The learning of a language is possible at any age and in any circumstance.

To begin to explain it, it is important to banish a myth that can provoke an initial fear that hinders our ability to learn: there is not, from a scientific point of view, bilingual people, even less because they have received an education in another language.

In children who learn a second language since childhood, the volume acquired is almost the same, but never higher, than the so-called mother tongue, which is called maternal because, due to the proximity of mothers and children in the first years of life, It is usually the language that children who are learning to speak use preferably. It could be a paternal, or the language that a caregiver uses or the language that is most often spoken to.

If we have arrived late to bilingualism, which consists in reality in a preponderant second language, we should not be alarmed but look for adequate cognitive strategies to develop this knowledge according to the needs and specific abilities of adolescents. In fact, some authors begin to criticize, with statistical scientific demonstrations, that it can not be affirmed conclusively that the learning of a language depends so highly on the so-called sensitive periods.

Learn English without having worked in childhood

There are some benefits of the way of learning of young people that makes it possible to learn English even if it has not been worked in childhood.

1. Knowledge of one's own language
In schools where Spanish is the primary language and a significant volume of curricular material is introduced in English, both in the specific subject of English and in other subjects studied in this language. The teaching of the language to the little ones is reduced to an attempt to get dominate some phonetic aspects Even if they do not understand what they are saying. The knowledge of their first language, their mother tongue, is still extremely limited and the knowledge of the following depends always on the knowledge of the mother tongue.

The adolescent has already acquired a broad development of his own language with which he has an important base on which to sustain the new knowledge. In addition, its network of concepts and interests is wide and has the ability to permanently acquire new complex knowledge. Learning in these stages can be based on logical reasoning, as Professor María del Mar González explains in a study published in the journal Signs, specialized in education.

2. Mastery of reading and writing skills
A young child can not be taught "on paper" because he still lacks the necessary literacy skills. The fixation of concepts requires more repetitions if they are not visualized, so that it takes time to teach a few accessible words at the level of the child's cognitive development.

However, the brain of the adolescent is fully accustomed to retaining every day a huge amount of new concepts that he receives embodied in books and other school materials. Within this great flow of new content, the introduction of a language will not be a problem and the adolescent will develop adequate mechanisms to memorize the data that is provided.

Regarding the learning of pronunciation, which can be the most complicated, the ability of logical reasoning allows students to teach a second language phonetics fundamentals that will simplify the process.

3. Knowledge of grammatical structures
Facing a new language implies knowing and understanding the grammatical structures that comprise it. Young children who manage a second language acquire innately the grammatical structures that they will apply to other circumstances, that is why they make mistakes when faced with exceptions and irregular verbs.

A teenager has already studied and understands some fundamental concepts that will simplify the learning of the second language in a more structured way. It means to anchor the new concepts in previous mental structures that will help them recover them.

4. Interests in English
In the same way that it is easy to conquer a small child with a song in English, cartoons or a small school representation, it is very easy to find interests that develop your taste for this second language. Music is the main ally in this sense because there is no possibility of enjoying it in any other language than the native one.

We can encourage young people to look for the original lyrics of the songs, "lyrics, in their English expression", which is usually easily available on the Internet. It is a way for them to read and discover at the same time that they listen to phonetics through music. We will check that, if the young person has "good hearing", he will pick up the phonetic nuances very easily.

The same can be done with television. The cinema without doubling has allowed countries with minority languages ​​to learn English perfectly. This is the case, for example, in places as diverse as Romania or Norway. If we include the norm at home that television is viewed in its original version, an option that most new screens allow, language learning will be significantly improved. Subtitles in English can be used to strengthen the link between oral and written.

5. Bet on language immersion
If you have the opportunity, betting for language immersion periods is a good option. The offer of summer camps is very broad and adapts to the needs and tastes of the adolescent. The opportunity offered by many schools and institutions to promote temporary exchanges is also interesting. The benefit is that this option is very economical since the stay is not paid but only involves the cost of the transfer and a small fee for management expenses.

These immersion formulas can only be carried out in adolescence since children do not enjoy such autonomy in childhood. In addition, the adolescent acquires another type of values ​​from stays away from home that are very positive for their integral formation.

Alicia Gadea

Video: How to learn any language easily | Matthew Youlden | TEDxClapham

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