Two important factors in children’s ability to learn a second language are exposure and practice.
Exposure refers to how many opportunities children have to interact with the language. Hearing the language helps students learn the correct pronunciation of words, as well as grammar and idioms. Seeing the language written aids students in learning how to spell the words, develop reading comprehension in the new language, and see the grammatical structures in action.
Students practice the language by speaking and writing it, and it is through practice that they receive critical feedback, identify errors, and make corrections.
Ideally, children would be totally immersed in a culture that speaks the language in question. Or children would be continually exposed to two languages at home and, in a way, the student and parent learn a foreign language as a family. However, these two options are not always feasible.
While older students can learn new languages, the earlier a child can learn a new language the better because they are more likely to internalize the correct pronunciation of words and the language’s rhythm.