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."

Back to School Coloring Page for Kids

The unofficial end of Summer has passed and the kids are off to school today. We're getting ready to release our "Back to School" episode to our Little Pim subscribers in Spanish this week! For unlimited access to our 12 language learning programs designed for kids ages 0-6, plus NEW episodes & content when released, subscribe to Little Pim today!

Print out this FREE Little Pim Back to School coloring page for your kids to color in when they get home from their first day. 

 

Little Pim Beach Day Kids Coloring Page

With the heatwave we're experiencing here in the northeast, there's nothing like cooling off at the beach or pool. In this coloring page, Little Pim is at the beach ready to enjoy the hot summer day. When it feels like over 100 degrees outside, cool off indoors in the A/C while your little ones color with Little Pim!

Print your FREE "Little Pim Beach Day" coloring page here or by clicking the image below:

If you're subscribed to Little Pim's new subscription product, in addition to all of our videos, you'll receive new episodes introducing your child to new words and phrases describing the weather, seasons, and greetings. Here's a sneak peek at some of the vocabulary covered in our "Sunny Day" episode in English & Spanish that you can teach your little ones while they're coloring:

summer / el verano
it's sunny / está soleado
beach / la playa
sand / la arena
swimming pool / la piscina
swim / nadar

Stay cool, stay hydrated, and enjoy the last few weeks of Summer! - The Little Pim team

 

Foreign Language Learning in the U.S. versus Europe

This past week, data from the Pew Research Center highlights the discrepancy between language learning in the United States compared to that in Europe. An average of 92% of the European population is taught a foreign language at a young age, compared to only 20% in America. The reasons for this may be multi-faceted, including: 

1. English is frequently spoken throughout the world as compared to most of the European languages. 

English is described as the language of globalization. There is not as much pressure for American students to have to learn a foreign language if in many places English is regularly spoken. This is in contrast to other parts of the world, where one can very often expect to be greeted in a different language in a neighboring country. Even within a single European country itself, there may be more than one language as a country's official language. In Europe, it is common to study even more than one foreign language, with this being required in school for at least a year in over 20 European countries.

2. There's no uniform standard for foreign language acquisition in schools in the U.S.

National standards for test-taking in Europe incorporate the importance of foreign language acquisition. On the other hand, no such national standard exists in the U.S., where requirements are generally set at the state or district level. In the United States, the rates of foreign language study vary to as low as single-digit percentiles in some states. Even the higher percentages of states mandating foreign language study lag behind the countries with the lowest percentages in Europe.  

3. Timeframe for learning a foreign language in Europe versus the U.S. is generally different.

In Europe, students often begin studying their first foreign language in school between the ages of 6 and 9, in contrast to the United States where foreign language is typically not taught until at least Middle School or High School. Multiple studies have shown that language acquisition is overall easier the younger one is.

Many prominent voices stress the importance of foreign language acquisition. Memoirist Eva Hoffman described loss of multilingualism as "the loss of a living connection". Studies increasingly display the importance of  "cultural intelligence" in our increasingly globalized society. As the Livni article summarizes for the importance of learning another language:

It’s a window on to a new worldview, a way to understand how our fellow humans think.
— Ephrat Livni

As parents, probably one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is the gift of being able to communicate in a second language. Why not give your children a subscription to the #1 learning program for foreign language for kids, Little Pim? Subscription plans are available for a single language as well as the option to access all 12 of our included languages. Experience the wonders of a gift that can last a lifetime.


Sources: Devlin, Kat. Most European students are learning a foreign language in school while Americans lag. Available at: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/06/most-european-students-are-learning-a-foreign-language-in-school-while-americans-lag/: Accessed 08/13/18.

Livni, Ephrat. Only 20% of US kids study a language in school—compared to 92% in Europe. Available at: https://qz.com/1350601/foreign-languages-are-studied-by-just-20-of-kids-in-the-us/: Accessed 08/13/18.

By Alexis Dallara-Marsh

The Benefits of a Bilingual Brain | TED-Ed

It's amazing how today's modern research and brain imaging technology shows how multilingualism actually strengthens the brain. In an article published by Mindshift accompanied by the video below by Lisa LaBracio for Ted-Ed, we learn that people who speak more than one language actually have a higher density of gray matter that contains most of the brains neurons and synapses.

The study also compares the differences between learning a new language as a child vs. adult. 

Children use both hemispheres of the brain to acquire language, which means they often grasp the emotional implications of language more deeply. 
— Mindshift

Scientists hypothesize that adults tend to acquire a new language using their left brain, so they approach problems in a more rational, detached way. The benefits of learning a new language are endless and it's indeed refreshing to be reminded that we are starting our kids out with an advantage by teaching them a new language at a young age. To learn more about this subject, check out the video below: