IELTS Writing Task 2 #26

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Around the world, children learn English as a second language at school. However, in some places, they also learn at kindergarten (pre-school care, when children are aged two to five).

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of learning English at kindergarten.

Provide reasons for your answer. Include relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

model answer:

As English has become the dominant language worldwide, vast numbers of people are learning it. The age of English-language acquisition is also lowering at the same time. Personally, I believe it is essential for a person from a non-English speaking community to learn English, but I think it is not necessary to do so until a child is around seven or eight.

Supporters of teaching English at kindergarten – that is, when a child is aged between two to five – believe that early exposure will produce more competent speakers. Parents who are keen to give their child a head start in an ever more competitive world are persuaded by this idea. They think that if English is combined with play, it will be easily absorbed, and not seem like study at all. However, there are strong arguments against teaching English at kindergarten.

Firstly, linguists claim that a child needs to be literate in his or her own language before another is begun unless that child is already living in a completely bilingual environment – that is: his or her parents are native speakers of both languages, and both languages are used around the child.

Secondly, kindergarten teachers are less likely to be native English speakers themselves, or to be competent language teachers, which means that what children learn at kindergarten could be no more than a smattering of words – ‘Hello’ ‘Goodbyes’, numbers, colours, and the names of animals. All of these could be learnt very quickly in a school classroom at the age of seven in addition to proper grammar and good pronunciation.

Then there is the issue that kindergartens provide ‘English’ more as a marketing tool than an educational one, cashing in on concerned parents. It could also be a status symbol that a child is learning English at the age of three among the friends of his or her parents, meaning that the child’s learning experience is subordinated to the parents’ prestige.

In my view, kindergarten is a time to acquire social skills, motor skills, and a deeper understanding of a child’s own language. English can come later when a child is more capable of focused learning, and when the teaching is likely to be better. In an age where the endless pursuit of qualifications and accomplishments seems the norm, why not let a child be a child at kindergarten?

(390 words)