I have very little recollection of my first French lessons. I started learning the language not long after having learned to walk, although classes at that age probably consisted of little more than colouring in the French flag, eating croissants and saying bonjour. Despite the fact that they may seem rather simple, starting language classes early can be invaluable for a small child as they will quickly realise that learning languages is fun and can help them to communicate - realisations that not enough young people today have had the opportunity to come to.
In the UK, we are notoriously bad at languages. One recent study suggested that we are the laziest in Europe when it comes to foreign language skills. It is partly the way we teach as language learning is an art that requires time and practice which doesn't fit with the way we are expected to learn today. Rushing through a textbook, learning vocabulary and grammar in a near-mathematical manner in order to achieve the best grades in the shortest possible time simply doesn't work with languages. Offering language teaching to children who are still in nursery could help reverse the trend, but are they really capable of learning a foreign language when most are still perfecting their understanding of their mother tongue?
The main advantage of learning languages at such an early age is that it is a much easier process. In just the same way that young children learn their mother tongue by ear, they can pick up another language without the effort that it would take later on. By the time children reach secondary school, when traditionally language teaching has often begun, they are no longer able to absorb new things in quite the same way. The other main advantage is that children of this age have fewer inhibitions about trying new things and will happily attempt words in a different language with none of the concerns that an older child or an adult might have about getting it wrong.
So if you think your child might benefit, how do you find the right sort of language teaching? There are some things you might want to bear in mind.