"The earlier, the better" is the main message conveyed in an article published by Le Soir ("Le don des langues s’éveille au berceau", 13/02/2014). As explained by neurolinguist Emmy Bijleveld (Université Libre de Bruxelles), the coherent exposure to different languages before the age of two enables the brain to recognise and reproduce the sound systems of these languages. Sending your children to a nursery run by native speakers of a language different from your own is therefore a good idea, she says. Especially for languages with a comparatively poor sound system, adds neuropsychologist Anne-Catherine Nicolay (Université de Liège): this makes learning the sound system of other languages later in life more arduous. However, she says, the main reason why Flemings are better at languages than francophones has nothing to do with this, but rather with the use of subtitling rather than dubbing on TV, which exposes Flemish children to other languages from an early age.
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