I concur. Most studies indicate that the most efficient time for humans to really learn a language is when they are very young. Its sad that most school in the USA don't use multiple languages until Middle or High school. For most of us, by then, the brain is already wired and the opportunity to learn language on deep level is diminished. I'm a native English (well, "American") speaker, learned Spanish in High School. I still do not follow Spanish conversation very well. First generation immigrants often struggle with English. Their children, however, often do very well. New language as Alzheimer defense? Gee, I forget if that's an issue for me.
BTW, I read an article about 6 months ago about a new way to teach mandarin Chinese. The idea, as i understood it, was to leanr the root images, and then learn how each add on changes, refines, the meaning of the image. This is different from the more traditional rote memorization of 1000' so icons/pictographs. Have you been exposed to this? What do you think about it?