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Ask LP Kids: when is the best age for kids to learn a second language?

in Blog
Created: 04 October 2018

Advice and resources from the Lonely Planet Kids community about what they think is the best age for kids to learn a second language.

The post Ask LP Kids: when is the best age for kids to learn a second language? appeared first on Lonely Planet Kids.


Advice and resources from the Lonely Planet Kids community about what they think is the best age for kids to learn a second language.

The post Ask LP Kids: when is the best age for kids to learn a second language? appeared first on Lonely Planet Kids.

Who can say ice cream in another language? We can! © wundervisuals / Getty Images

If your family loves to explore the culture of a place, the chances are you also value the ability to communicate well with the people you interact with as you travel. After all, talking to the people who live there allows you to learn so much more about a place and even something as simple as saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the local language can open doors.

Would you like your children to learn a second language? We asked our community for their thoughts on when is best to start this process.

The expert view

‘Definitely from birth. My eldest was born in Italy and we lived there until he was nearly two: he has an excellent Italian accent while his younger London-born siblings sound rather more south London when they speak Italian. My husband is Italian and I’m English, and we found it more difficult than we had envisaged to bring up our children bilingual as I was the chief caregiver when the children were young, and thus English was the dominant language. However, if you’ve failed, like me, to bring your children up bilingual, don’t give up; ours learn more Italian every year, and have an especially good food-based vocabulary (mainly ice cream and biscuits)!’

Abigail Hole, Lonely Planet writer

Our Twitter community says

From birth or as early as possible. We have 3 languages going on & it works. Also, your partner not speaking your language is absolutely no excuse not to speak in your mother tongue with your child (don’t underestimate adults’ power of learning by listening either).

— Nicola Williams (@tripalong) September 26, 2018

Studies have shown that younger children have a greater predisposition for absorbing new languages then do older children. The main flaw in American high schools is that they initiate foreign language study too late in the intellectual development process.

— qwertyuiop123 (@Bama45242) September 25, 2018

If done in a playful and authentic way, I’d say it is never too early! Our kids speak Italian and English and recently started Irish in school – and they love it. I think if they have a positive association with the language (a parent, a holiday) learning is easier

— Marta Escapes (@learningescapes) September 27, 2018

Our Facebook fans say

The above comments and more family travel tips can be found on our Facebook feed.

Want to investigate further? Try these helpful extra resources:

1. Our writer Mara Vorhees has written about teaching your kids a foreign language when English is all you speak for Red Tricycle.

2. The website Motherly has a well-researched article on the best age for kids to learn a second language.

3. If you’re looking for a rainy day activity with your kids, we pulled together different ideas for teaching your kids a new language on our blog.

4. We also have an audio hub which features big pictorial buttons and you can hear their words in Japanese, Mandarin, Italian, French, Spanish and English.

Do you have a question you want answered? Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Tweet us @lpkids using #asklpkids.

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