Language acquisition is of higher significance in today’s global village, so many parents think of allowing their children to learn a foreign language at primary school rather than deferring this stage to secondary school. I believe that the trend of accessing a new language at an early age has more disadvantages than advantages.
Obviously, international studies have shown some merits of early language learning and I strongly agree. Firstly, primary pupils are very receptive to learning a new language. They are willing and able to mimic pronunciation without the inhibitions and self-consciousness of older students. Their sensitive ears help them pick up and duplicate tricky sounds that adults, and even adolescents, often stumble over. Secondly, having a positive attitude to language is a crucial factor in determining children’s success in foreign language learning. By showing children at primary school that language learning can be fun, they will approach secondary school language lessons with greater enthusiasm and anticipation, facilitating them to master this language.
However, I think there will be more demerits. Primary school teachers, especially in rural areas, normally cover all subjects, so they are not well trained for linguistic pedagogical methods or even their language competency is not entirely ensured. Primary language teaching needs to be standardized, but it is quite implausible for the educational system in developing countries. In addition, it will be very stressful for a child when he has to be bilingual. Such children have difficulties in deciding which language to speak, either mother tongue or foreign language, and may end up learning nothing.
In conclusion, it is clear that learning a new language as early as possible is beneficial, but the wrong approach of parents and teachers will produce more counterproductive impacts.