2019 New Year Resolutions for Foreign Language Learners

With 2019 rapidly approaching, now is the time to think about resolutions that can help make your family's language-learning goals more attainable than ever. Check out these ideas, inspired by an article last year on Eurocentres.com-  

  • Spend an hour a week practicing speaking with a native speaker in the target language

  • Go out to eat and order a meal in a restaurant using the target language

  • Watch one foreign- language film every week (with or without subtitles!)

  • Keep a diary in the target language and write in it at least three times a week

  • Learn all of the lyrics of a favorite song in the target language

  • Read a book or news article in the target language on a scheduled basis (i.e. once daily or weekly)

We love these ideas as they would also be great for family-time together studying another language!

From all of us here at Little Pim, we wish you and your families the very best for a happy 2019! :)

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Ideas for your Little World Explorers

Photo by  freestocks.org  on  Unsplash

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

It’s hard to believe how quickly the holiday season has come and gone this year! For the last-minute gift, check out a few ideas for further cultivating your child’s love of learning using gifts to reinforce knowledge of other cultures and languages!

Books

As a non-native speaker in a few foreign languages, some of my favorite books are those that I can’t yet read to my children. Audiobooks that teach popular songs in a target language can be helpful for hearing pronunciation in a slow and repetitive fashion, while being catchy and sticking in one’s head. For older children, parents can also work together with them on translating the text. One great example is from a company who produces a variety of French books for young kids (their Christmas edition is Mes premières comptines de Noel - My First Christmas Stories [ French ] ). Each book typically has short snippets from six songs opposite colorful artwork.

Another company that has similar books has some in Spanish and will soon have some in Chinese. Or, for recommendations on music in a few other languages, check out this recent blogpost from Multicultural Kid Blogs on Christmas Music in Different Languages, which mentions some other audiobooks and CDs.

Activity books such as sticker books are another idea for young kids to learn about other cultures. There are some wonderful ones such as this one about Flags around the World.

Games

Growing up, one of my favorite games was a board game called Passport to the World, which had an talking airplane that would ask questions about the 7 continents, and whoever gathered a token from each continent first won the game. While that game is now a collector’s item, another item that appears to have a similar concept and would probably be good for older kids as well as adults is Passport to Culture.

For younger kids, options like bilingual versions of Scrabble or Bananagrams are often other great ideas and can encourage one to think in a foreign language.

Globes

I haven’t been able to purchase this toy globe yet myself, but another site recommended it and it sounds like a great idea for exposing children to foreign language and other countries- apparently it plays authentic music from 39 different areas around the world!

Other ideas

Integrating second language vocabulary while doing activities with your child, such as colors and shapes through arts and crafts or kitchen vocabulary while baking or cooking, can be wonderful ways to show the real world applicability of another language. Any product that can bring enhance a parent and child’s bonding is ultimately the best way to go!

For even more gift ideas, check out one of our previous blog posts all the way back from 2011, which has ideas even for babies under a year of age, as well as for adults who are looking to share their love of language with their children.

Best wishes for the happiest holidays from all of us here at Little Pim!

12 Days of Little Pim Giveaways - 2018

In the spirit of the holiday season, we're giving away Little Pim Digital Discovery Sets ($49.99 value) in your choice of 12 languages during our 12 Days of Giveaways event. The set includes your choice of Little Pim's award-winning foreign language videos available in 12 languages and our Little Pim Panda Plush. The videos are sent instantly to your email address and the Panda Plush will be mailed to you. 

You can enter to win a free Little Pim Digital Discovery Set up to three times per day by liking or sharing our post on our Facebook page, Instagram, or by retweeting our tweets on Twitter. Twelve lucky winners will receive the gift of a new language for their little ones this season.

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The more your participate, the greater your odds of winning! Starting Saturday, December 14th, we will choose one lucky winner per day at midnight EST.

You can also enter the giveaway, by filling out the form below (limit three entries per day per household):

Check back here daily to see if you're one of the lucky winners. Winners will also be notified via email and/or social media. Comment below with any questions. Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

Day 1 Winner: Randi W. from Instagram

Need a last minute gift for kids? We've got you covered! Subscribe to get unlimited access to our 12 language learning programs designed for kids ages 0-6, plus NEW episodes & content when released. Shop Now >> www.littlepim.com - Little Pim Team

ENTER TO WIN A LITTLE PIM DISCOVERY SET

Fill out the form below for (1) entry per day and be sure to visit our social networks for additional entries to increase your chances to win!

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Fostering bilingualism for babies of monolingual parents

It is not uncommon that many monolingual parents want to give their children the opportunities they may not have had to learn a second language from an early age. Yet not being fluent in the target language themselves, they hesitate as they think they can't possibly be successful at achieving such a hefty goal. Some advise hiring a native speaker and letting them do all the work, but this is not always possible for a variety of reasons. What then, is the eager parent to do? Is it even worth thinking about?

Photo by  Sue Zeng  on  Unsplash

Photo by Sue Zeng on Unsplash

One study published last summer displayed that it is indeed possible for little ones from monolingual homes to successfully acquire a second language. The study reviewed a play-based curriculum in Spain that sought to teach English to children under age 3 using "parentese" or a speech technique commonly employed when speaking to babies through simple vocabulary terms in a high-pitched sing-song type voice. With an hour of English sessions a day in under 5 months, the children receiving this form of instruction had significant improvements compared to the control group in a standard bilingual program, producing over 5 times as many English words or phrases per child per hour compared to their peers. Follow-up testing months later again reinforced these results. The lead researcher concluded that even the youngest of children from monolingual homes can develop bilingual skills. 

“With the right science-based approach that combines the features known to grow children’s language, it is possible to give very young children the opportunity to start learning a second language, with only one hour of play per day in an early education setting,” Dr. Ramirez said. “This has big implications for how we think about foreign-language learning.”

Studies repeatedly display that the earlier a person learns another language, the easier it will be for them. No age is too young. Babies have a fantastic ability to learn, and, whether from a monolingual or bilingual environment, learning a second language is certainly possible!

Visit https://www.washington.edu/news/2017/07/17/bilingual-babies-study-shows-how-exposure-to-a-foreign-language-ignites-infants-learning/ for more information about this study and its significance for our children!

2018-2019 Best Homeschooling Program Award

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We’re delighted and honored to announce that we have won the Best Homeschooling Programs & Resources of 2018-19 award from HowToHomeschool.net. With hundreds of nominations and rigorous criteria to win, we’re deeply grateful for this recognition and remain committed to the homeschooling community for yet another year.

With the launch of our new online subscription, you receive unlimited access to all videos (both past and future) in 12 languages (currently 30+ hours of content), instructor guides, printable weekly lessons, and fun activities! Whether your child is studying a second language at home or school, consider a free 3 day trial to get started today!

How not to forget the second language one learns in school

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One of the most frustrating things with learning a second language in our school system today is that the majority of students report forgetting the language as soon as they stop classes. Use it or lose it, they say. If forgetting what they learned, did they ever really know it to begin with? Most likely, no- Memorizing vocabulary and conjugation lists, for example, is extremely different from the true immersion one faces when traveling to a foreign country. Additionally, when it's all summed up, the little amount of time allocated in the average school to foreign language learning is nowhere near the amount of time needed to become able to actively use the language in real life. 

How then do we work to apply and remember what students learn? A blogpost on bornglobals.com names a few of the ways on how to enhance learning a foreign language so it's never forgotten:

  • Language meetings- Consider starting a "Parent & Me" playgroup in your local neighborhood for younger kids, or a cultural interest club for older ones who are more on their own. Kids learn from playing with each other and mimicking what their peers are doing. Regularly conversing with one another in person reinforces the real-world applicability of why one learns a second language in the first place, making it fun and worthwhile.

  • Music and movies- It is important to use active learning with these. The parent (or teacher/tutor) should sit with the child and constantly pause any program to review what they are seeing and hearing. Such resources should be used as a springboard for ideas for vocabulary that is age-appropriate. With music, sing along and have fun! Catchy tunes can stick in the head, teaching lyrics while relaxing and enjoying oneself. Little Pim, for example, has music CD's available in Spanish and French, each offering some classic nursery rhymes as well as new original songs to learn high yield vocabulary from.

  • Audiobooks- Listen to authentic dialogue whenever possible- in the car, on a walk, or during down-time at home. Of course, the original foundation of the Pimsleur language system is learning through listening. Again, this should be active if possible. Book groups, for example, are a great way to reflect on one's comprehension. Choosing books with themes one's interested in is of course an added plus!  

Additional tips from others are: 

  • Set aside time each week to use the target language. Concentrate first on the basics that you will use over and over again. Pattern recognition is a great way to store up information for the long-term.

  • Go into language learning with no particular expectations. Avoid putting pressure on oneself or others. Languages are here to bring each other closer together. Enjoy the journey and above all, have fun!


For more reading on how not to forget a foreign language, check out: 

https://bornglobals.com/en/2016/06/how-not-to-forget-a-foreign-language-5-proven-ways/
https://blog.thelinguist.com/how-not-to-forget-foreign-languages
https://www.mezzoguild.com/why-we-forget-the-language-we-learned-in-school/


Legislative updates regarding second language learning

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” —Frank Smith, psycholinguist

 

An article written by Tom Torlakson, California Superintendent of Public Instruction, summarizes California’s current efforts to increase access to foreign language education amongst K-12 students.

The importance of early total immersion in another language cannot be understated. Dual language immersion programs, often beginning in Kindergarten, are designed to deliver instruction in both English and another language in the school setting. While some states offer English/Spanish dual immersion, dual language programs in California also exist with a variety of other languages, including Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese, and Portuguese. Displaying the public’s interest in dual language immersion programs, Proposition 58 was passed by a large margin in the state in 2016, which aimed to remove many barriers to setting up dual immersion programs. Despite this, establishment of these programs has been limited, partially due to a shortage of bilingual teachers. As there remain not enough programs to meet the need of all families in California, a lottery system often has to be used, ultimately leaving out many other families who would otherwise be interested in dual immersion enrollment.

Torlakson’s initiative, known as Global California 2030, has goals including: 

  • quadrupling the number of dual language immersion programs by 2030.

  • doubling the number of world language classes taught in California schools

  • more than doubling the number of bilingual teachers authorized each year

  • more than tripling the number of graduating high school students who receive a state seal of biliteracy on their diplomas.

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Recently passed in the Senate, Assembly Bill 2514 aims to provide 10 grants of $300,000 to be used for additional funding for dual-language immersion programs. As the benefits of learning a second language at an early age are well known, it is hopeful the current legislative efforts will set a standard for improving foreign language acquisition across the country to our youth.

 

For more information, see the following references:

https://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article216851715.html: Accessed 09/19/18

https://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/documents/globalca2030report.pdf: Accessed 09/19/18

Benefits of being bilingual

A recent post on psychologytoday.com by Dr. Neel Burton highlights some of the benefits of being bilingual as follows:

Academic Benefits

·         Bi- and Multilingualism are associated with improved executive functions (the ability to pay attention and carry out tasks), in addition to memory and cognitive flexibility. It is also clear that the more languages one knows, the easier it becomes to learn additional languages. This is in addition to commonly strengthening vocabulary in the native language.

Economic Benefits

·         Employees knowing a second language obtain an average of an additional $3,000 per year compared to their monolingual coworkers. In contrast, nations that are predominantly monolingual can see changes in their Gross Domestic Product of a few percentage points.

Health Benefits

·         Multiple studies have shown that those who speak a second language have a decreased incidence of dementia. Another study has shown that those recovering from stroke have improved chance of normal cognition compared to those who are monolingual.

Social Benefits

·         Bilingualism is associated with increased ability to see perspectives through an alternative route, associated with improved judgment, and cultural awareness and tolerance.

There are so many benefits to foreign language acquisition. Perhaps another one is the bonding that can occur between parent and child when they practice the language together! Check out the accompanying parent companion guides on LittlePim.com to supplement our language-learning videos, and enjoy the many wonders of learning another language with those you love.

Why learn a second language?

An opinion article by Gretchen Busl, an assistant professor of English at Texas Woman’s University, explores the reasons behind why students should learn a second language in school. Rather than concentrating on an ultimate goal of fluency, which many may not obtain, a more universal reason for foreign language acquisition is to expand one’s horizons, recognizing that there is a bigger world out there than just his or her backyard. While the majority of students may not regularly use their second language later as an adult or in the workplace, there are numerous other traits they acquire. These are traits present even in the first days of language learning.

Introductory language study has been shown to promote attributes including:

·         creativity

·         critical thinking and problem solving

·         communication and ability to participate on a team-level

“To compensate for a limited vocabulary, students must develop their ability to read context clues, to improvise, and to rely on visual communication– vital skills, no matter the language.” – Busl, Is Fluency the Goal of Language Learning?
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These are abilities ultimately needed for any area of employment. Simultaneously, studying foreign language helps others identify and respect both cultural similarities and differences. Busl ends with stating that all students planning to work in a global economy should be obligated to learn a second language, as while studying this, “they understand there is more than one way to see the world - and therefore more than one way to solve a problem.”

In 2011, California became the first state to pass legislation for the Seal of Biliteracy, creating an award in recognition of students who have gained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation. At the time of this article, 33 states and Washington DC have approved a statewide Seal of Biliteracy. It is hoped that the rest of the United States continues to follow in these footsteps, providing ongoing encouragement to any student wishing to pursue foreign language study.

Sources:

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/education/241110-is-fluency-the-goal-of-language-learning: Accessed 09/11/18

https://sealofbiliteracy.org/faq/: Accessed 09/11/18

Photo by Lonely Planet on Unsplash

By Alexis Dallara-Marsh

Traditional Rosh Hashanah Activities for Kids

September 10th is the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, a day in which Jewish families around the world ring in the year 5779. Whether your child or classroom is learning Hebrew or not, it's a great time to expose them them to Jewish culture and global traditions surrounding this important Jewish holiday.

Rosh Hashanah translates from Hebrew to mean "start of the year." Traditionally, Jewish families attend services in a synagogue and enjoy traditional holiday meals with family on this day and the next.

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram's horn, which is sounded on both days of Rosh Hashanah to mark the start of the new year.

For a fun craft, your child can make his or her very own (thankfully less noisy) cardboard shofar here.

Many of the foods Jewish families eat during this holiday are also symbolic. For example, apples dipped into honey help prepare followers for a "sweet" new year.

And Challah, a round loaf of egg bread is also commonly eaten on the first night and symbolizes the circle of life.

Apples & honey are traditionally eaten by Jewish families on Rosh Hashanah to symbolize a "sweet" new year ahead.
Apples & honey are traditionally eaten by Jewish families on Rosh Hashanah to symbolize a "sweet" new year ahead.

Teach your child about this yummy tradition by whipping up a batch of Honey Apple Cupcakes together.

If you want your children to learn more about Jewish tradition and learn Hebrew, check out our award-winning Hebrew for kids program.

Are you celebrating the holiday this year or teaching your child Hebrew? Be sure to send us your pictures or share them on our Facebook page.

And don't forget you can get Rosh Hashanah cards here to wish your Jewish friends or family members a happy new year! The traditional greeting is "shana tova," which translates to "good year."