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Language disorders: product of modern society?

General Secretary of the Vietnam Linguistics Association Pham Van Tinh says language disorders are a product of modern society. Children may suffer if they are forced to learn foreign languages too early and follow the wrong methods.
VietNamNet Bridge - General Secretary of the Vietnam Linguistics Association Pham Van Tinh says language disorders are a product of modern society. Children may suffer if they are forced to learn foreign languages too early and follow the wrong methods.


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General Secretary of the Vietnam Linguistics Association Pham Van Tinh



Experts believe that an early age is the best time for kids to start learning a foreign language. However, opinions vary about what ‘early age’ means. In Vietnam, some urban parents believe that their children should be studying English at the age of two or three, while others fear learning a foreign language at an early age increase the risk of language disorders among children.

Tinh said that children should grow in a natural way, learn Vietnamese vocabulary and practice Vietnamese skills, and after that, start learning a foreign language.

The critical age for children to use English is 5-6, when they obtain basic vocabulary. At this age, children can learn a second language quickly.

The critical age for children to use English is 5-6, when they obtain basic vocabulary. At this age, children can learn a second language quickly.

Before children are five years old, they can also learn English, but not in an intensive manner. They just need to learn through games, songs and contexts which help them remember words and phrases in a natural way.

“Children should be familiar with another language only after they can have mother tongue skills,” Tinh said. “It’d be better to consider English as a supporting language which helps make life more interesting.”

The linguist warned that many children in modern times suffer from language impairment because of the way they receive information.

“This is a disease of modern times. When abusing hi-tech devices, children grow with unbalanced skills,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Vo Ky Anh, director of the Human Potential Research Institute, believes that children can be exposed to English at the age of 0-3 through music and games at a moderate level.

When they are 4-6 years old, they can learn words, phrases, sentence structure and make simple expressions. For small children, learning English aims to activate the brain, rather than to be able to read and write.

Also according to Anh, children can learn with videos and images to increase interactions. 

However, there should be instructors who keep watch over children’s learning process. The learning in a passive way, via Youtube, and not using English in daily life, will not bring the desired effects.

Vietnam is trying to apply an ESL (teaching English as a second language) program. However, this has been a difficult task because the curricula cannot ensure high teaching quality.


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