The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Speaking in tongues
by Peter

I know it's an old-fashioned sentiment these days, but I canĀ“t help sharing the views of Mr Matussek.

"Learning a foreign language at the earliest possible age opens up a whole new dimension for children. It greatly benefits their reading and writing in their own language and there's evidence that, like musical education, it contributes significantly to the development of individual intelligence; and it concretely improves overall results at school."

Professionally, I am regularly involved in recruiting and know how hard it is to find British candidates with decent language skills.

If you are serious about teaching your children a language then "earliest possible age" means before five. At this age the mind is best at coping with languages. Ideally you would have your children listen to the foreign language you want them to learn during their first couple of years - before they learn to speak.

This is hard to achieve without the aid of an au pair - so most people miss out.

I would like to see more children going to nurseries with a foreign language component. My Spanish nieces and nephews all speak good English because this is readily achievable in Spain. In the UK you need to look hard to find such facilities.
posted by Peter Pigeon @ 11:24 am  
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"What is Liberalism?: I should say it means the acknowledgment in practical life of the truth that men are best governed who govern themselves; that the general sense of mankind, if left alone, will make for righteousness; that artificial privileges and restraints upon freedom, so far as they are not required in the interests of the community, are hurtful; and that the laws, while, of course, they cannot equalise conditions, can at least avoid aggravating inequalities, and ought to have for their object the securing to every man the best chance he can have of a good and useful life." C-B.


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