April 19, 2024

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Education.  At what age should you start learning English?

Education. At what age should you start learning English?

Since the publication of the Pisa 2023 study, the debate about learning English has raged in Germany and has stirred the parent and teacher community and the political world. The following questions arise: Do little Germans learn this language early – enough? Or, conversely, focus on German in elementary school and not learn a foreign language later? According to South German Zeitung, “After some back and forth, now there are scientific answers.”

No use running…

Foreign language learning requires mastery of the mother tongue, except for children who are naturally bilingual for family reasons. So there is no point in skipping steps and starting early. Among 800 high school students aged 13 and 14 between 2009 and 2016, Simone Pfenninger, a linguist at the University of Zurich's Department of English, found that those who started learning English at a later age did not make any progress. medium term. Another study by English professor Nils Jagel, then at Bochum University, goes in the same direction.

Yes, you should start young!

But according to Heiner Böttger, professor of English at the Catholic University of Eichstätt, studies sometimes run into methodological problems, and that's for sure. “A child's brain is finally mature enough to learn a second language by the age of six.” And “Teaching Foreign Languages ​​in Secondary Education Must Change.”

Academician Raphaela Porsch from the University of Magdeburg has conducted the largest study on the subject to date. He surveyed 30,000 students who learned English in elementary and middle school. Results published in 2023 show that those who start younger do better.

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Any age is possible

The German newspaper underlines that age is not the only factor.

In short, “It is absolutely not necessary to start in elementary school to learn a language well. Only those who want to speak a foreign language without an accent should start before adolescence. And, linguists and language learning experts today agree that it is possible to reach the level of a native speaker in a foreign language until adulthood. So there is hope for everyone who wants to learn no matter what their age!