Children can learn a new language quicker than an adult.
We all are well acquainted with the common belief that children usually learn a new language faster than adults. While this belief holds true, we must know why it is easier and faster for them while it is seemingly an impossible task for an adult.
How different are children's brains compared to an adult's? Research shows that this could be a result of both their brain chemistry and the influence of their environment.
Factors influencing language learning
Language learning in children is affected by a few factors that decide whether or not they learn it quickly. Motivation behind learning the language and how they feel in the class are important factors. When children understand why they are learning a language, it allows them to take essential steps towards mastering it. Furthermore, support from home in the form of language exposure can help them learn the language quicker.
When it comes to the environmental advantages of learning a new language, children beat the adults by a huge margin. They are not instructed formally in language the way adults are. Then how do they learn?
They learn by actively immersing themselves in multilingual environments and passively 'absorb' the language through interaction and contact. Moreover, unlike adults, children don't have work or chores to worry about, which gives them time and space to develop their communication skills.
Physiological advantages for children
When children are young, their brains are malleable. Their brain and neural connections and pathways haven't been formed, but they form the connections at a quick pace. In this state, their brains act similar to a blank slate. Whatever is written on it makes an impression, even language. Constant interaction with the language forms new neural connections and shortcuts in their brain, and because they are newly formed and are being reinforced constantly, they find it easier to access that information when they need it. That is just how everyone's brains work.
Role of the social environment
The social environment, too, plays a conducive role in children learning a new language. Children tend to make mistakes while learning new languages and skills, but they don't get judged for their mistakes and shortcomings. Instead, they are corrected, which is a boost to their confidence levels. They are encouraged to learn. This plays a critical role in forming the fundamentals of language learning for them. In the case of adults, mistakes are looked down upon, which snuffs out the little confidence that we could muster, hindering our learning process.
Learning curve during childhood
For children, the learning curve starts slow but progresses upwards steadily. Every day they encounter the language and are faced with new challenges, their brain figures out a way to deal with them, and thus they learn to communicate. The curve doesn't plateau once they have a decent amount of knowledge about the language; rather, it grows exponentially.
Children are quick learners. From social cues to complicated languages, they grasp them all with ease. Their environment, cognitive abilities, and social environment - all play a vital role in their superiority in learning a language over adults.
With their innocence intact and the lack of inhibitions, children definitely are more confident in practising their language skills, even when they are wrong. The presence of this confidence is the stepping stone towards mastering a language. Hence, it is no surprise that the little ones can speak any new language in the span of months than adults could ever hope to!