On this page you will find recent research about the benefits of learning a second language, and about the background to the techniques I use in my teaching. On doing a quick Google search, you will find all kinds of articles that suggest that learning a new language is much easier when you are young, and many articles imply that there is some sort of upper limit of age on when it’s best to start. However, the actual research, when you look closely, suggests something rather different from this. It suggests real benefits and real advantages to adults as well as children to learning new languages, and this is why I like to teach children and adults together. Below, you can find different areas of research about language learning, but for a quick summary of some of the main research, please click here.
Benefits to children
See below for a study on the benefits to toddlers of speaking more than one language. This builds on years of previous research which suggests that being bilingual is good for our brains, and even learning a new language in old age can have cognitive benefits.
Benefits in later life
The research below provides evidence that learning a second language, whether earlier or later in life, has benefits to us in old age. This research is particularly interesting because it looks at people who have acquired a second language the way many of us do, from school education or later on in life, and its long term effects, even when that second language is no longer regularly in use. It basically suggests that school-boy/school-girl French (and also language acquired later on) has a positive and protective impact on the brain, even in old age. I have also attached a BBC summary of the research article for those who want lighter reading!
Benefits of music to children’s development
Recent research has found evidence that providing babies with musical activities is good for their brain. Researchers compared the cognitive abilities of babies who had or had not been introduced to music play and found a significant difference between the two groups of children. Some researchers in the US have argued that music is fundamental to our language learning and key to understanding human development.
Can children with language impairments learn a second language?
Yes, they can! I will add more to this section soon, but in the meantime, here’s an article that you can read about this.