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It is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school..(Band 9 Essay)

Updated: Mar 14

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.


Write about the following topic:


Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school.

Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?


Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge and experiences.


You should write at least 250 words.


Task 2 Band 9 Essay Sample - Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school.

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Sample Essay 1

The discourse on the prime period for initiating foreign language education in children—primary versus secondary school—remains a pivotal one. This essay asserts that the advantages of early linguistic engagement substantially outweigh its potential downsides, focusing on enhanced cognitive development and early cultural integration as key benefits.


Embarking on foreign language learning during primary education is instrumental in bolstering cognitive prowess. At this developmental stage, children's brains exhibit remarkable plasticity, making them adept at absorbing new linguistic structures with relative ease compared to their older counterparts. This early linguistic immersion not only accelerates language acquisition but also enriches cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and multitasking capabilities. An illustrative example of this is observed in a longitudinal study by Stanford University, which demonstrated that children who learned a second language before the age of 5 exhibited significantly higher cognitive test scores in subsequent years. Beyond cognitive benefits, early language learning serves as a conduit for cultural immersion. It allows young learners to cultivate an authentic appreciation and understanding of different cultures from an early age, fostering a sense of global citizenship and empathy. Such exposure is invaluable in our interconnected world, laying the groundwork for more harmonious international relations in their future endeavors.


Despite these advantages, there are concerns regarding potential overload and distraction from primary language mastery. Nevertheless, empirical studies consistently refute this, showing that bilingualism can actually reinforce the mastery of both languages, enhancing linguistic dexterity and communication skills across the board.


In summation, the introduction of foreign languages at the primary school level presents a profound opportunity for cognitive and cultural development, far outweighing any suggested disadvantages. This approach not only prepares children for a globalized future but also equips them with a suite of cognitive and interpersonal skills that stand to benefit them throughout their lives. Hence, the early acquisition of a foreign language emerges as a highly beneficial educational strategy.


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Sample Essay 2

The debate over the optimal stage for children to embark on learning a foreign language—primary as opposed to secondary school—garners significant attention. This essay posits that the merits of early language acquisition distinctly overshadow its drawbacks, particularly in terms of cognitive flexibility and cultural awareness.


Firstly, initiating foreign language study at the primary level significantly enhances cognitive development. Children at this age are at a peak learning phase, demonstrating an exceptional ability to assimilate new sounds and structures with ease, a phenomenon less pronounced in older learners. This early exposure not only sharpens their linguistic acuity but also fosters superior problem-solving skills and creativity. For instance, a study by the University of Edinburgh found that bilingual children outperformed monolingual peers in tasks requiring mental flexibility and innovation. Moreover, early language learning contributes to a deeper understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures. By interacting with a new language, children develop a broader perspective, becoming more empathetic and open-minded towards people from different backgrounds. This cultural sensitivity is imperative in our increasingly globalized world, where cross-cultural communication is a cornerstone of both personal and professional success.


Conversely, critics argue that introducing a foreign language at a young age could burden children, potentially hampering their proficiency in their native language. However, this concern is mitigated by evidence suggesting that bilingualism actually enhances linguistic skills in both languages, as the process of learning a second language can reinforce understanding and usage of the first.


In conclusion, the advantages of beginning foreign language education in primary school far surpass any perceived disadvantages. This approach not only cultivates advanced cognitive abilities and a global mindset in young learners but also equips them with valuable skills that benefit their personal and academic growth. Therefore, it is clear that early foreign language learning is a beneficial investment in a child's future.


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Sample Essay 3

Some experts think that it is more advantageous for children to start studying a foreign language at primary school rather than at secondary school. Though there is a risk of failure and frustration, in my opinion, the advantage of teaching children a foreign language at their early stage obviously outweighs its disadvantages because they can learn fast enough compared to that of the other age groups.


It is undoubted that starting to learn a foreign language at primary school can be risky for some children, because of the amount of time which needs to be dedicated to this difficult learning process, and the eventuality to feel a deep sense of frustration in case of unsuccess. In effect, children who are involved in studying a foreign language must dedicate less time to games with their peers and to any kind of leisure activity. As a result, this attitude can damage their ability to socially interact, and hinder their behavioural development. Moreover, children who do not succeed in learning a foreign language at primary school can feel depressed and frustrated, and this can seriously damage their self-esteem during adulthood.


On the contrary, it is undeniable that there are some important advantages related to this approach, such as the increased facility to learn a foreign language when this is taught at primary school, and the development of the capacity to solve complex problems more easily. In fact, it is demonstrated by past and recent studies that at an early age children’s brain can easily remember words’ sounds and meanings much better than that of adults, and consequently a new language can be easily learnt during childhood. In addition, today we know that when children speak two or more languages at an early age, they activate some particular brain regions, which are normally involved when they are required to solve complex mathematical or geometrical problems.


In conclusion, although children can have some major problems if they start learning a foreign language at a primary school level rather than later, because it might cost their time with peers and even success in the foreign language learning. However, as the primary class children are sharper in memory and problem solution skills, I believe it is more advantageous to teach them a foreign language than that of the disadvantages it can cause.


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