The trend in recent years in the world as well as in Vietnam shows that the age of students in the Foundational Phase of English is increasing. Mr. Gareth Jennings from the UK, with a Masters Degree in psychology, he is the training adviser for VATC and has provided advice to parents for early English language learners.
Notes from Mr. Gareth Jennings:
-Zing.vn (an online newspaper) featured an article about Vu Nhat Ngan, who won first prize in English Speech in Japan and many other awards. He said he started learning English at the age of 5 in the Vietnamese-American English company VATC. This reminded me of the idea that children learns English as early as possible.
Today, I’ve seen many English programs for young learners and the general trend of the world in recent years is to lower the age of the students in the classes. Helping children to learn English earlier in their life is in line with the general trend of the world. On the other hand, today people do not only teach English, English is also used as a tool to transfer knowledge to other subjects such as maths, science etc. Many countries have put English into their educational program. Primary English is important because access to English at an early age is more effective.
He mentioned; what is the ideal age to learn English for Vietnamese children? According to my age, I should start learning English as soon as possible. A baby's brain is like a sponge that gathers information. If we introduce a Foreign language as soon as possible, the suction power of this sponge is even stronger. In addition, the composition of the hearing and speech organs in young children also makes it easier to imitate the different pronunciations. It's a good idea to start introducing your child to Foreign languages before the age of 6. Until the age of 7 is even too late.
Recently, the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam has allowed the return of teaching English at kindergartens, after a period of time that they’ve forbidden this due to concerns about the quality of English teaching in the schools. According to research in the scientific field, children aged 2-3 years, are able to learn a new Foreign language in the same way they learn their mother tongue. A child who is able to identify who is speaking to him or her, is using a language code that may be mistaken for the first time, but gradually the process will be lost.
Children increasingly show the acquisition and distinction between their mother tongue and a Foreign language. By the age of 8-9, if they are embedded in such a bilingual environment, children are more likely to be able to acquire and use both languages well. So, I support the view that children learn English as soon as possible. In your experience, is teaching English to students at a younger age more difficult or easier than teaching English to adults?
Teaching English to students with specific difficulties should still be done within their age group, however not only traditional methods of teaching grammar and language structure should be used. These children needs Teachers who can adjust their methods into what works best in teaching these students. They can either prepare more practical oriented lessons or game centered classes.Through storytelling methods; like games, collective songs, and telling stories help students to be more active, not in the traditional way of teaching vocabulary and grammar. This method is used a lot to create exciting activities in the classroom.
When children are learning a Foreign language at such a young age, what should parents keep in mind?
This is the age that develops a child’s thinking and to shape a child's pronunciation.
If children are exposed to a Foreign language as soon as possible, their level of acceptance will be higher. Some studies show that learning a Foreign language supports the development of thinking. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the classroom is always attractive and fun for children to enjoy and not that they feel forced to learn. Children should learn English with native speakers to obtain good pronunciation.
Vu Nhat Ngan's success is also due to the fact that he found the right teacher, and the right center to develop his talent. In my opinion, the success does come from many sides. In addition to their own efforts, it’s also due to the knowledge to always have support from their parents, families and teachers, and of course, choosing where to accumulate knowledge is one of the factors that helped Nana achieve success today.