Learning a Language: Is Timing Everything?

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by Jennifer Young

Constantly, in life we are threatened with the concept of time. We believe there is an appropriate time to learn the multiplication tables, go to college, get married, etc. We want to reach a certain position in a company by a designated time and believe that “timing” plays a role when meeting a significant other (Or it’s an excuse of why things do not work out with a significant other). We are told, “Timing is everything,” and some of us are always in search of the “perfect” time to do something. Also, to approach it from an alternate perspective, we are the only living animal who can comprehend that our time is limited. We are aware of death. Perhaps, that is the main reason why we are focused on and scientifically search for the “right” time to achieve goals and how the cycles and transitions of life fall into their places.

Through research, Smart Coos has developed a web-based platform that places emphasis on the ages 0-8 as the crucial development years for easily learning a second or multiple languages. The platform recommends a minimum of 15 minutes a day to magnify your child’s chances of learning foreign language and continuous reinforcement of the language throughout the day — as this is the period when the brain and speech are significantly developing. Starting at an earlier age allows for more time of reinforcement. This complimented with consistency is crucial to mastering anything.

Dad using Smart Coos  French to teach baby French with baby sign language.
Dad using Smart Coos French to teach baby French with baby sign language.

Something else to observe is how humans’ perception of time changes as we grow older. Time seems to go faster and faster with age. For a twenty-year-old an hour seems to go by quickly while an hour for a toddler seems to go by slowly. For a child, less time studying can have a higher impact because of this perception. Also, a child’s brain is consumed with a lot less information compared to an adult. This provides space for natural progression in foreign language.

As someone who took extensive Spanish courses in college, I can say that an hour of class speaking Spanish a few times a week does not suffice. For my final Spanish course, I studied abroad in Costa Rica where I was forced to speak Spanish 24-hours a day as I would attend class and then, return home to a host family who only spoke Spanish. My college classes did not prepare me for that challenge. Yes, at an older age, you will learn in the classroom, but it is difficult to communicate effectively when thrown into any type of conversation. In the U.S., the focus and demand on foreign language are still not high enough, and the time that is spent is still not enough because our minds are too well-programmed to the structure of our native language, and our concentrations are on other concerns.

Before and after us on this earth, all there is time, and as it goes on, the necessity to communicate is becoming more and more irreplaceable in the world. It is our choice to decide what we do with our time and what we promote to our children to do with theirs. Learning a foreign language can be a cumbersome process when you are older, but at an early age, with consistency, and the right program, Smart Coos, it can be achieved easily. Indeed, it seems that it could be true that, “Timing is everything.”

Jennifer Young, born in Alabama, is a recent college graduate from the University of Iowa. She completed her undergraduate with a degree in English and currently resides in NYC.

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