It is a sad fact that English speaking children simply do not have the opportunities or the emphasis in their school to really help them learn a foreign language. Most children around the world, if they are in any form of schooling, regardless of how basic, start to learn English, or another world language, almost immediately. It is a much more difficult task for the English speaking child.
Even remote African countries like Malawi, where there is limited funds for education, and where people are poor and will most likely never escape poverty, the children are speaking pretty good English. It amazed a traveller who happened to spend some time in a remote village there.
Children have a huge capacity to learn foreign languages when they are young, English children included. Yet in England, foreign languages are seen as extracurricular activities or more fun side subjects, rather than priority subjects.
It is usually only as students reach their A-levels or university level that some of them decide to get their head stuck into a language. This of course requires tremendous concentration and work, as well as investing in traveling to the languages country of origin. It is not like the movies and television shows are readily available in the languages, as most of the entertainment industry is in English. The whole process takes much more time and effort at a later age.
English speaking children need more opportunities to learn modern languages. Games and side lessons can only go so far. It should be an intrinsic part of the national curriculum in order for children to really have an opportunity to learn and establish a foundation for modern languages.
Andrew North is a widley respected writer who has been writing for 5 over years often writes on Translation Service and a wide range of other subjects.