Have you ever wondered if it was too late for your child to learn a new language easily? I know I have! I see so many parents on social media asking too. You're definitely not alone!
Are you ready for the good news? There's some exciting new research that answers this question and the answer is probably not what you're expecting.
Before I get to that though, let me tell you my story...
After all of my education in child development, language acquisition and linguistics I still didn’t know the answer either. I remember when my oldest child was born I was determined to raise him bilingually in English & Spanish. I had read somewhere (I don’t remember where but it probably wasn’t a reliable source) that as long as I started speaking to him in Spanish before he was 9 months old, he would grow up able to think in and use Spanish the same way he would think in and use English, which was our community language and our native language.
(I want to take just a moment to step back and say that, as parents, we REALLY need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves! We need to let that guilt go! Forever.)
I know I’m not the only one though. Parents around the globe wonder if it’s too late when their child is 7 years old, or 4 years old, or even 18 months old. But is it? How late is too late?
In 2018, researchers at MIT created a quiz that went viral on Facebook and got results from more than 650,000 people! The quiz tested their English skills and it also gathered information about things such as their age, how long they had been learning English and how they learned English. Their results?
They found that kids can learn a language with native-like vocabulary and grammar if they start before 10. Wait....what?! Seriously?! That is SO much later than I would’ve ever imagined.
They also found that kids can still acquire a new language really easily through age 17 or 18. Even better yet, they found that adults aren't 'bad' at learning languages either. Adults are good, just not as good as kids and teenagers. Basically, everyone is good at learning languages, but earlier is better. You can read all of the details of this study here.
Then in 2020, Oxford University asked the same question in regards to accent. How late is too late to learn a new language and NOT have an accent? Any guesses about the results?
They found the same thing applies to accent. Their results were VERY similar to the results of MIT’s study. You can read all about that one here.
Generally speaking, it’s never too late. If you haven’t started yet, the best time to start is now. Whether your kid is 3 months old or 3 years old or 13 years old, GO FOR IT!!! You’ve got this! It's NEVER too late!
So tell me in the comments.....How old are your kids? When did you start their journey to multilingualism? and how's it going?
I'd love to hear your story.
Now go forth and raise multilingual world changers ;)
Hey! I'm Bridgette, wife, homeschooling mama of 3, entrepreneur, Michigan native and coffee addict extraordinaire. I love photography, travel, teaching, crafting and Saturday afternoon movies with the family. I'm a former bilingual special education teacher who left public school teaching to homeschool my own multilingual kids. I use my professional knowledge of child development & language acquisition along with my own personal experiences to help other parents navigate their own family's multilingual journey.