Singapore ranks as the 6th country best at English as a second language because children study and use the language in schools. Learning a new language is easier for kids younger than 10 years old. At this age, they can become fluent in a second language.
But teens age 17 or 18 may have a hard time learning a new language. Here’s why.
When do kids lose the ability to learn a new language?
All the basic stages of language learning are still fresh at an early age. The problem is, however, as kids grow up, their ability to learn a new language declines. Scientists have discovered that the age of 17 or 18 is where language learning somehow “expires”.
The critical period for everyone is between these ages. At this point, the mind could have a hard time absorbing and processing new information. On top of this, it’s harder to adapt to how grammar varies from one language to another.
What are the basic stages of language learning?
The first stage of language learning involves phonemic and phonics awareness. For kids, these two are important because it will help in their ability to read and not just speak.
After learning to recognise and produce the sounds in a language, children learn to understand the meaning of the word. Children are now trying to comprehend morphemes, which is the smallest unit of grammar that function as the foundation of language and syntax.
The third basic stage entails learning how to make sentences. Kids know the sound and pronunciation and they have established the meaning of the words. Now, they are learning to put the words in the right order. This is also the stage where they realise how grammatical correctness and meaning differ.
The perfect window to learn a new language is between 10 and 18 years old, when learning is quicker. This does not necessarily mean you won’t be able to learn a new language at a later age. But as an adult, you could have challenging time speaking like a native.