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Research


Between birth and five years of age, the human brain is hard-wired for learning multiple languages*. After age five, this critical window begins to close and it gets much harder to acquire a new language and a good accent.*

Founded on clinical research in child development, neuroscience and linguistics, Little Pim is for families who want to take advantage of their child’s fertile but brief window for learning multiple languages.

The award-winning Little Pim series provides an interactive method, complete with all the tools necessary for parents to become their child’s first language tutor (even if the language is new to them too). By structuring and encouraging parent-child interaction, Little Pim’s unique method fosters maximum language learning with minimum difficulty.

Infancy and early childhood is the ideal time to immerse your child in a foreign language.

Babies gain understanding long before they can speak, and benefit from having a rich language environment, because babies actually learn to talk by listening.

Frequent daily exposure to words and active social engagement helps the brain pathways that foster language learning to develop more fully. According to Dr. April Benasich, Little Pim Advisor and Director of the Infancy Studies Laboratory at the Center for Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers University:

“Babies and young children have incredible early learning skills and are uniquely equipped to learn the building blocks of one or more languages starting at birth.

The developing brain unconsciously tracks the sounds and contours of the languages that surround them, noting the patterns and the subtle differences between sounds. This is an ideal time to introduce foreign languages to kids and to encourage cross-linguistic learning.”

Babies and young children can differentiate between the sounds of any language in the world.

Babies hear their mother’s voices before birth and as newborns, they already know the rhythm of their native language. Once born, babies can actually discern differences in languages*.  Babies are particularly attuned to hearing phonemes (the sound elements or building blocks of language) and repeated studies show that babies are actually more attuned to perceiving phonemes than adults.

Bilingual learners are flexible and may acquire two languages in the time in which monolinguals acquire one.

According to a report published in Science Express, children acquire their native language according to a well-defined timeframe. Surprisingly, although children raised in bilingual environments have to learn roughly twice as much as their monolingual peers, the speed of acquisition is comparable in monolinguals and bilinguals.

The article shows that preverbal 12-month-old bilingual infants are more flexible in learning speech structures than monolingual babies. Because bilinguals may acquire two languages in the time in which monolinguals acquire one, they quickly become more flexible learners*. The speed and apparent ease with which young infants learn the basics of a language regularly astound parents and scientists alike*.

As children get older, the early learning window begins to close

As they become attuned to their native language (or languages), children gradually lose the ability to tell the subtle sounds of foreign languages apart. Their innate ability gradually declines, and by five years of age, the most advantageous window of opportunity has begun to close. When people are introduced to new foreign sounds later in life, they can no longer hear the difference, making it much harder to imitate the correct sounds*.

Early foreign language exposure enhances a child’s primary language development, and his or her brain power. ¹

While scientists continue to explore how children can acquire languages with speed and ease, experts already agree that bilingualism is not confusing for a young child.

“This idea was dramatically reversed in a landmark study by Elizabeth Peal and Wallace Lambert at McGill University in Montreal that showed a general superiority of bilinguals over monolinguals in a wide range of intelligence tests and aspects of school achievement,” said Dr. Ellen Bialystok, Professor of Psychology at York University, Canada.

Regarding this link between fluency and improved IQ, Dr. Andrea Mechelli of University College London published her team’s research that found “grey matter” density in scans of the left-brain was greater in bilinguals than in monolinguals. The brain’s left side is responsible for processing information and controlling aspects of sensory perception, memory and speech. Dr. Mechelli found this increase was most significant in children who had learned a foreign language before the age of five.

Little Pim’s method is modeled on how we naturally acquire language.

Research shows that children learn best when their parents or caregiver actively play with them while naming items and actions in their daily life. The repetitive action of a child seeing an object, hearing the parent name it and then saying that name back to the parent is an essential part of a child’s primary language development*.

Little Pim’s videos are modeled on this natural way of learning. Our award-winning series provides an interactive method with all the tools necessary for parents to become their child’s first language tutor even if the language is new to them too.

By structuring and encouraging parent-child interaction, Little Pim’s unique method fosters maximum language learning.

 

¹Macnamara JT., Bilingualism and primary education: a study of Irish experience. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press; 1966