Foreign-Language Study: The Younger The Better

By Mara McGinnis

Release Date: August 10, 1998 This content is archived.


"While it is never too late to undertake foreign-language study, the best time to begin is during childhood, especially before adolescence," says Mark Ashwill, director of the World Languages Institute at the University at Buffalo.

• Encourage children to begin studying a second language as early as possible.

• Contact the child's school to see what kind of foreign-language programs or classes are available, including electives offered during after-school hours.

• Be aware of foreign-language software, private tutors and study-abroad programs that are available.

• Use the Internet as a source of information on programs and classes available locally and nationally for elementary and secondary-school students.

Ashwill adds that, according to educational research on languages and linguistics, in addition to learning another language, the possible benefits derived from early foreign-language instruction include improved overall school performance and superior problem-solving skills.

"It enables children to discover other ways of expressing themselves, of viewing the world and of better understanding their own culture," explains Ashwill. He adds that knowledge of a second language also ultimately provides a competitive advantage in the job market.

Reporters wishing to interview Ashwill may reach him at 716-645-2292 or via e-mail at