Research confirms that learning a second language is directly correlated with higher academic achievement on standardized test measures, is beneficial to the development of students reading abilities, and higher performance at the college level (American Council On The Teaching of Foreign Languages). Among academic benefits, research indicates that knowing a second language can reduce the chances of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Socio-Emotional and higher self-esteem development is also a benefit gained from learning a second language. Finally, knowing a second language can be a valuable business skill.
From birth until puberty, the brain literally forms itself to perform various specialized functions such as language learning and others, based upon the input it gets from the world. Neural networks gradually form, and they function more and more efficiently as they are used. If a second language is part of that input, networks for understanding and using it, grow richer. Therefore, early exposure to a second language actually causes more connections to grow in a child’s brain, and those connections, in turn, allow for easier additional learning in the second and first languages. This formatting process is especially active in the first six years, ends at puberty, or around age 12.
During this early period, two languages can be learned simultaneously as long as the child regularly interacts with speakers of both languages. Acquiring a language is effortless for a young child. Getting him into a class early on makes it almost natural to learn, preferably in an “immersion” program.