Apart from growing really fast, children learn at an extraordinary pace. Researchers have noticed that young children,
who were exposed to more than one language, have an easy time understanding and assimilating information. It is natural to
wonder where this super information processing power disappears to while we grow older.
Why do children learn a new language with relative ease?
Chinese speech and drama classes in Singapore explain that when it comes to learning there is critical period (CP) for
acquisition of language. CP is explained as the process of transition when the ability to assimilate a primary language decreases
and is replaced by a systemic process of mindful problem-solving capacity to complete a given task. A second language is therefore
distributed across the mind and help is sought from different parts of the brain. To explain in simpler terms, this means to say that
while children learn new language as a part of their emotional development, adults rely on previously learnt information to assimilate and process new knowledge.
” However, the mode of adult learning does not limit the ability to pick up a new language like Chinese but given the fundamental difference
between a child s organic learning and a high-schooler s systematic knowledge processing, time taken varies greatly.
” Young children are predisposed to be attentive of the language spoken around them. They seek novelty for everything they come across is mostly new.
They are passionately curious which is why it is impossible to keep them seated for long periods of time. It is widely accepted that learning and memory is
enhanced when the subject is viewed as interesting. Holding a child s attention is far easier than that of a high schooler. A child is fascinated when given
a brush and sheet of paper and asked to paint Chinese characters, a high school student, not so much. Teaching a complexly beautiful language like Chinese is
therefore easier when it is at the level of kindergarten than high school.
” Learning a new language for a child is easy also because they have lesser complex information to understand. Learning at a young age is predominantly
associated words with their meaning. In high school, learning includes grammar and sentence construction apart from understanding meaning. Such an added weight
increases the complexity of learning Chinese.
” Children, inherently possess low levels of self-awareness. It is natural for them to stand up and start dancing or singing out loud without worrying what
others will think of them. Sadly, as we grow older, there are invisible rules of decorum we are expected to maintain. Such a limitation makes us conscious of
mistakes and often limits us from trying something new. Children speak without worrying about the number of mistakes they are making or the coherency of the sentence.
The situation is not the same for young adults. As and when the child makes mistakes, it is corrected, but since adults shy from speaking they are not assessed for their skills.
” A child s mind is like a sponge: it imbibes information, greedily. But, for a young adult, information must be learnt through conscious effort through
construction of mind maps. There are higher chances of information getting misplaced when attempted consciously. To understand the concept of unconscious learning better,
think of the times when you hear jingles on the radio or TV. When a same jingle is heard over and over again, you start to sing along.
Although, educationalists are trying to device methods for unconscious learning in adults, teaching them young is effective in the interim. Kindergarteners who were
exposed to immersion classes of Mandarin Chinese showed exceptional results in reading and writing when they reached 5th grade as compared to students who were exposed
to the language at a later time.