Research has shown that, when it comes to learning a language, it’s a case of the younger, the better. There are many documented reasons why starting early can be beneficial; here are just a few:
- Children learn faster and easier when they are young because their brains are still developing and more “elastic”. That makes them more open to new patterns and sounds, and therefore ideally designed for language learning.
- Young children can acquire a native-like accent, and integrate the sounds, structures, intonation patterns and vocabulary naturally – an aspect of language learning that grows more difficult as they get older.
- They also have more time for learning, and for trying out new languages through play-like activities.
- Children have fewer inhibitions. This means their learning isn’t stifled, as they don’t feel that same sense of embarrassment that an older person might experience when trying out a new and unfamiliar language in a public situation.
Despite all of this, back in 1985, when the Hong Kong Institute of Languages (HKIL) was launched by Christian and Dominique Chasset, teaching foreign languages to children – and, in particular, young children – was not a common practice. Nevertheless, the two of them were soon offering lessons for ages five years and up, and designing their own materials for the courses, as none were available. They quickly came to recognise how successful the language-acquiring process can be in young learners.
Language programmes at HKIL
HKIL has gone from strength to strength since then, and today offers language classes to children from as early as three years. Seven languages are taught at the institute – English, French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese – to children, teens, adults and schools. There’s even a corporate training arm that provides language training to business people and professionals so they can develop their skills and compete better in the multilingual global market.
Children’s classes are delivered entirely face to face in dedicated facilities designed to enhance learning and are available Monday to Saturday for the whole day. As a parent, you can choose from a learning mode of small group classes (four to eight children per class) or request a tailor-made individual course for your child.
There are dedicated language camps available at various times across the year, too, where the emphasis is on the spoken language, cultural enrichment, activity-based learning and having lots of fun.
Back to School Offer!
The HKIL team is currently running a Back to School promotion for Expat Living readers:
Give your child the edge! Develop your child’s creativity, language, thinking and social skills with our innovative programme of learning through discovery in a safe, comfortable and caring environment. For our Back to School promotion, we’re offering new students 20 percent off their tuition fees. You can choose from English, French, Mandarin, German, Spanish and Japanese – all taught by qualified native speakers. Call 2877 6160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for a course.