Have you heard of the recent craze for English for toddlers? I’m sure that some of you are already skeptical that children are already learning English at such a young age. However, the average age at which Korean children start learning English is 3.7 years old! In addition, In Daechi-dong (an affluent neighborhood in Gangnam, Seoul) where private education ranks no. 1, there are English education programs for young children that cost more than $80,000 USD a month. The demand for such programs is so high that parents have to put their child on the waiting list the moment they are born, which goes to show how popular it is.
Why are parents so interested in early childhood education in English? There are many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is that infancy is considered a “critical period” for learning languages. In fact, when children are 24 months old, children’s ability to acquire languages becomes astounding. Children learn more and more words each day, and in the blink of an eye, they can even formulate sentences that surprise their parents.
So, is it really advantageous to start studying English at a young age? What is the most effective way to study?
One, the earlier the better?
This is what most people want to know. It is said there is a critical period in which children are more receptive to language, and it is believed that if a child is exposed to English during this time, they will naturally speak English like a native.
But this idea is half right and half wrong. Let me show you an educational experiment conducted in a lab. The experiment involved Chinese education for 5 year-olds, third graders from elementary school, and college students. First of all, in the case of speaking, the most rapid improvements were found in 3rd graders and college students than in 5 year-olds. So, what about reading? College students ranked the highest, followed by 3rd graders and then 5-year-old infants. But what about listening? No significant differences were observed between the age groups.
From this, we can infer that learning a foreign language at a young age does not necessarily grant an edge. However, if you want to start learning a foreign language from an early age, you can see that it would be most effective to be immersed in an English-speaking environment where they can improve their listening naturally.
Two, is it advantageous to go to an English-speaking kindergarten?
It is said that the monthly cost paid by parents to let their children attend an English kindergarten is about $860 USD. That means that, on a yearly basis, they spend over $10,000 USD, which is twice the average annual tuition fee of a four-year university at $5300 USD!
Are these expensive English kindergartens really that effective for early English education? Educators universally agree that language education must be extended across elementary, middle, and even high school.
No matter how hard a child tries to learn English in kindergarten, once they enter elementary school he or she can only learn English in short periods of time. Therefore, it is imperative to foster an environment in which English can be learned continuously, so that what was learnt in the English kindergarten can be built on.
Three, is it good to teach children English in parallel with their mother tongue?
We’ve seen many instances where children can easily acquire two languages when their parents speak different languages. However, it is very difficult to create such an environment if both parents speak Korean as their mother tongue. That’s why we often see people who think that it would be better for children to learn English before their mother tongue is fully developed.
But teachers, who spend the most time with children, have a different opinion. According to Professor Junglim Lee’s study, 33% of teachers said that English education for young children causes difficulties in acquiring their mother tongue. In addition, there were other negative aspects associated with studying English when one has not yet mastered their native language, such as deepening the gap between daily life and education, the problem of learning by rote, and a marked deficiency in their native language.
Of course, there were also positive aspects, such as increased familiarity and confidence in English, and not fearing foreigners. This might be possible by using AmazingTalker service.
Fourth and the last, does having longer exposure to English help improve English??
How long do children spend on English education? According to survey results, the average daily teaching time was 4 hours and 56 minutes, which was longer than the total class time of first and second graders in elementary school and approximately the same to the class time of middle schoolers. In addition, in the case of the institution with the longest teaching time, their classes lasted a whopping 10 hours and 5 minutes.
However, based on other results uncovered by the survey, 70.4% of pediatric psychiatric specialists answered that the negative impact of early English education was large, and 92.6% answered that children need at least one hour of playtime per day. And they were fighting for the rights of children to play even in the face of high tuition costs and long hours!
It is never easy for adults to study for more than 4 hours. Infancy is a time when you should focus more on physical development than on academic learning. We must not forget to set down reasonable study times for the healthy development of children.
What methods are there to teach young children?
The most classic yet effective way is just reading a book. There is a lot of information out there about books for English education for young children. But I cannot definitively say which book is good and which is better at teaching English. Children have their preferences, as do their parents. What matters more is that the parents read the book to their child and interacting, rather than the content of the book they are reading.
In addition, children’s English books are often written around a particular theme, and their form reflects this. As a result, there is a wide array of formats and styles, such as bring written in short and concise sentences, flashy picture books featuring both a native language and English, and even DVDs to accompany a book, so it is ultimately up to the parents to decide which book to choose.
Using Smart Devices
These days, there has been a surge in tablet-based education. In particular, tablets that allow a visiting tutor to manage them together with children are becoming very popular. Videos are essentially meant to grab children’s attention and pique their interest. This will naturally help them learn English. However, one thing to consider when using smart devices is to check whether the child is too young. Experts recommend that children over 4 years old should use smart devices due to concerns over potential damage to the eye and even the brain. Furthermore, children may cling to the device and avoid physical activity altogether.
Learning through private institutions
Now, the last method I would like to introduce is learning English through a third party, such as cultural centers, play schools, and experience classes. This way, you can provide children the opportunity to interact with their peers, as well as an entertaining and interesting activity.
On the other hand, we should never forget that the role of parents goes beyond providing an education. They must anticipate the problems that may come with their children interacting with others, and avoid comparing their children to those of others, as well as avoid fussing over or pushing their children too hard!
Children often attend early childhood 화상영어 programs due to the pressure of their parents rather than out of their own interest. We must be particularly careful to make sure that what we begin with the best interests of the child at heart does not end up hurting them along the way.
If you are wondering to get 화상영어 service that might positively influence your child English, there are a service called, AmazingTalker. Also, if you’re looking for an English class that your kids can enjoy, visit AmazingTalker, where they offer special category for English lessons only for kids and children. After choosing a course that is perfect for your child, you can take a 1:1 영어과외 class with a local native speaker.