The Bilingual Brain

[Infographic] Are Bilingual Kids Are Smarter Knowing Two Languages?

 Infographic shared from our friends at  BilingualKidsSpot .

Infographic shared from our friends at BilingualKidsSpot.

We recently shared this infographic by BilingualKidsSpot on our Facebook page and loved it so much that we thought we'd share it on our website's blog. As parents, aunts, uncles, and more, we’re genuine believers in the importance of learning a foreign language at an early age.

Growing up in a multilingual household, I experienced first-hand the benefits of multilingual exposure at an early age, learning English, Gujarati, and Spanish simultaneously. When I joined the Little Pim team, I quickly grew passionate about educating new parents and early education teachers about the many benefits of raising bilingual and multilingual children. 

Our founder, Julia Pimsleur, inspired by her own bilingual childhood, created Little Pim for her children to have the same opportunity to learn a foreign language. Little Pim is the first comprehensive at-home program that can be effectively used by parents and teachers even if they don't speak a foreign language.

We love seeing the benefits of bilingualism shared across the web as it's our mission to spark inspiration, remove obstacles and provide encouragement and support to make learning a second language easy and enjoyable for kids. We hope you're inspired to introduce your child to a new language and if you need help along the way, please feel free to contact us

Benefits of Raising Bilingual Children on Fox 5

Recently on Fox 5 NY, the International Academy of New York discussed the benefits of raising bilingual children, sharing that their students spend around 40% of their week functioning in either Mandarin or Spanish. Research shows that some of the benefits of raising bilingual children include:

  • Children are much more focused and less distracted
  • They are more able to switch tasks spontaneously
  • They have more flexible and nimble brains
  • By middle school, bilingual kids typically outperform their peers in both math and verbal standardized tests

The interview also explains that human contact is important when teaching children a new language. Singing, reading, and talking with your children in the new language and taking children to cultural events also help encourage language learning. At Little Pim, we believe introducing your child to a new language at an early age can give your child many advantages. The best time to learn a language is under the age of 6. Don't miss the window of opportunity when it's easy for them to learn. Invest in their future…A little language goes a long way.

The Edge of Extinction

What do snow leopards, African wild dogs, black rhinos, and the Arikara language of the North Dakotan indigenous people have in common? They are all endangered. Just as species’ extinctions threaten the food chain and thereby the ecosystem, language extinctions hurt cultural diversity and thereby our society. To best understand the harsh reality of language extinction, we should investigate some statistics. While differentiating between unique languages and dialects, or just variations of the same language, is very difficult, researchers agree there are between 5,000-7,000+ languages alive today. Studies project that up to 50% of these languages will die out by the end of the century. Some even say the figure is higher at 80%, That is one language dying every few months! This slow and steady leak of linguistic and cultural diversity must be plugged for the sake of our children gaining the exposure to different thoughts and ways of life- exposure that stimulates appreciation and innovation. Admittedly, we, here at Little Pim, do not teach endangered languages, nor have we discussed them in prior blogs. We do, however, always hope to impart that a language is:

  • Powerful in the classroom, in the workplace, and on the street
  • Empowering in its ability to help cultivate creativity, cultural awareness, problem-solving skills, and pride in one’s roots
  • Effectively important to personal and societal growth

In spreading this message in the past (as we will continue to do in the future), we hopefully indirectly made the case for the preservation of dying languages. Additionally, in teaching what are currently actively used languages, we aim to prevent their downfall into the endangered category one day. Yet, today, in this article, we will take a firmer stand for endangered languages, giving them a voice that might otherwise soon be taken away. It is with this voice that endangered languages might return from the edge of extinction.

It is with power in numbers that we can spread the word and reach someone in a position to change an endangered language’s course, so share this if you like the rest of the article. I will explain how we classify levels of endangerment, expound on why you and your family should care, and share what YOU can do to create a better future in which we maintain cultural diversity and awareness.

How do we know when a language is dead?

There are two main measurements of a language’s vitality, the number of speakers and the number of avenues of use.

Number of Speakers

Many languages can be said to have few speakers, but the word “few” is loose and open to interpretation. Determining the exact number of speakers of a language, however, allows linguists to be specific in distinguishing between levels of endangerment. Arikara, which you may recall is in our backyard in North Dakota, is a critically endangered language, with only 3 speakers still alive while the Cherokee language spoken in Oklahoma is classified as a vulnerable language, with only 1,000 speakers.

Number of Functions

The number of functions a language takes on, whether that be in prayer, in scripture, in school, in ceremonies, etc. can quantitatively represent a language’s vitality, because the more sectors of life the language is involved in, the more spoken it must be, and the more it veers away from the edge of extinction.

Some other factors linguists consider with regards to a language’s vitality are the age range of speakers, the number of speakers adopting a second language, the population size of the ethnic group the language is connected to, and the rate of migration into and out of the epicenter of the language.

Why do we care?

In history, conquered civilizations have had to adopt the language of their conqueror in order to fit into their social structure and economy. This is the case because language is so integral to a culture. From writing literature, carrying out rituals and practicing religion to voting in elections, all the human interactions associated with a culture involve written or spoken word. Effectively when a language dies, the culture associated with it dwindles away as well. If 50%-90% of languages die within the century, 50%-90% of existing cultures will likely die as well.

Many of these cultures that will die out only possess oral histories, so we will lose out on the knowledge they have gained from years and years of experience. Even if some of the cultures whose languages die have been documented, without active speakers, their thoughts and practices will likely be left behind in favor of the ones possessed by the dominant cultures and languages. Accordingly, our future society will lack in a diversity of thought and practice due to a lack of cultural diversity. Not only do we lose diversity of culture and thereby thought when languages die, but also when people conform to speaking one language, as is the case with English in the business world. If we continue along this path, we will become a monolingual, culturally homogenous society. In such a society, people might communicate efficiently because they speak the same language, but creativity would be strangled and progress slowed.

What can we do about it?

To prevent the fate of becoming a uniform society, we must recognize that cultural exchange is a two-way street. People speaking endangered languages are learning other languages to be able to interact with members of their extended community. While it may be hard for us to learn endangered languages, we can educate ourselves on which ones are endangered and why, learn about the cultures the endangered languages are from, and encourage their preservation. For example, the Arikara people were originally a semi-nomadic community that expertly harvested corn and tobacco. This mastery of the land gave way to power over other groups living in the plains until smallpox hit. Would this knowledge of the land past on from generation to generation in their language be lost in translation if the language died? Time will unfortunately tell.

Moreover, to avoid one major language from pushing out the others in the future, English-speaking people could learn other languages to communicate with non-English-speaking people, tapping into a whole wealth of knowledge they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. We cannot become complacent just because English is the “language of business.” Little Pim can open your child’s eyes to these other languages and vibrant cultures in the click of a button… literally. Check out our new iOS app!

Live in a Spanish-speaking community? Try our Spanish for Kids program.

Want to know more than the words for French foods on the bistro menu? Try our French for Kids program.

Works Cited:

https://www.linguisticsociety.org/content/what-endangered-language

https://www.ethnologue.com/endangered-languages

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_endangered_languages_in_the_United_States

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arikara

Featured Photo by Mark Rasmuson on Unsplash

Code or Let Language Learning Programs Implode?

“He who knows no foreign languages knows nothing of his own.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
early-learning

Whether coding courses should be offered as an alternative to foreign language classes in highs schools’ core curricula is the subject of great debate among legislators. To make my position undoubtedly clear early on in this post, I urge our leaders to vote against a bill that allows coding to substitute foreign language learning. As an intern at a foreign language learning company, my bias is evident. However, I will present irrefutable support to my position on the matter to show you I don’t speak out of self-interest but rather popular interest.

Before I delve into why I vehemently disagree with the proposed course of action, I must qualify that I understand the motives behind the bill. With our president using Twitter as his own media outlet, Facebook allowing cute images of puppies and simultaneously devastating snapshots of war and terrorism to reach millions in seconds, and posting videos to YouTube becoming a career path, I do concur that our world grows ever more dependent on technology. I also understand that this dependency on technology implies a demand in the global economy for individuals educated in engineering and computer science. With only 4% of people graduating with a bachelor’s degree in engineering in the US, compared to 31% in China, for example, it logically follows that other global superpowers are fulfilling this demand in the job market. To become more competitive in the job market and contribute to technology-related fields of the global economy, US citizens must be better educated in the associated areas of study. For these reasons, I understand the desire to integrate coding into the core curriculum.

While I recognize the need for coding classes, I do not understand how they can be viewed pedagogically as comparable to foreign language classes and therefore be offered in lieu of them.  Java and C++ are languages in that a combination of good diction and syntax allow for expression. However, these coding languages

  • Only consist of approximately a hundred words (Little Pim can teach you 250 more in the foreign language of your choosing)
  • Are not spoken
  • Don’t underpin a society’s rich cultural history

These qualities that differentiate coding languages from foreign languages may seem unimportant to a decision about the proposed education bill, but they are actually the very reason we must say no to the bill!

1. Word Count

Learning the thousands of words of a foreign language requires the brain to become flexible and switch between vocabulary, grammatical structures, and accents. These skills developed to speak foreign languages are believed to be responsible for bilinguals and multi-linguals divergent thinking, or creativity. The fact that coding languages have significantly fewer words than foreign languages means the skills required to jump between languages, skills that translate to divergent thinking and improved creativity, are less developed. Why should you care? Coding is integral to a successful career in technology-related fields, but creativity is equally imperative in technological innovation. Steve Jobs may have been able to program Apple software, but he also needed the creative mind to come up with product ideas and marketing strategies. Without this creativity, he wouldn’t have been as successful. Thus, foreign languages, in cultivating creativity, are just as important in training people valuable to the tech space as coding classes. Moreover, creativity is appreciated in many other fields, too. Thus, to deprive children of foreign languages, effectively limiting their creativity, is detrimental to the US’ position among tech powers, like not having coding classes at all.

2. Spoken Word

Coding has become important, because our society is so technology dependent. Accordingly, many of us have grown more screen-facing than people-facing in our jobs and daily lives. Changing the foreign language requirement to permit coding in place of foreign languages only reinforces this screen-facing culture, which endangers the quality of our face-to-face interactions and children’s people skills. Tech companies might need coders to build products, but they need to know their consumer in order to create desirable products. Surveys and stats are only so telling of consumer response. Face-to-face interactions, where you can see body language and hear intonation can be far more informative. Thus, successful tech companies also require people-facing individuals. These people skills are acquired through conversation, like those had in foreign language classes. Once again, foreign language classes are as necessary in properly educating individuals to enter the tech space as coding.

3. Cultural Awareness

There is a horrible stigma surrounding Americans that we are culturally unaware and self-centered. With English as the language of business, we are rarely forced to accommodate others linguistically. This unaccommodating nature has leaked into our service industries, like tourism, and beyond, tainting our global image. Foreign languages force students to acquaint themselves with a different culture. The AP foreign language examinations offered to high school students who have taken the course test both language and cultural knowledge. Having taken AP French, I can say that the curriculum truly does touch on culture too. We read French literature, discussed historical events, learned of famous chefs and characteristically French dishes, compared the French educative system to the American one, and more. The class taught me a lot, but most importantly that language is merely a window into culture. With this in mind, coding keeps the curtain over that window, bolstering the negative perception of Americans’ cultural awareness. Furthermore, in a globalized economy, cultural awareness, achieved through foreign language classes, not coding, is more and more important to potential employers, including tech companies.

“…allowing coding to replace foreign languages may create more programmers, but runs the risk of letting those programmers be less creative, less congenial, and less culturally aware.”

The fact that coding languages have fewer words, aren’t spoken, and don’t lay the foundation for a society’s cultural background may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Yet, these aspects of coding entail that coding languages don’t heavily improve creativity, don’t better interpersonal skills, and don’t make coders more culturally aware. Foreign languages, unlike coding, enhance all of these qualities, which are desirable to tech employers and all employers, in fact. Therefore, allowing coding to replace foreign languages may create more programmers, but runs the risk of letting those programmers be less creative, less congenial, and less culturally aware.

“In trying to find a solution to the fact that America is behind other countries in the tech space, the proposed bill creates more problems in the form of less well-rounded graduates.”

Moreover, if the same amount of money is allocated to foreign languages while coding classes, which involve very expensive equipment, are included under that umbrella, even less money will go towards foreign language classes. With smaller budgets, foreign language classes will likely have higher student teacher ratios, potentially less enthusiastic teachers, and less immersive curricula. Studies, (like the one in the following article: https://www.thespec.com/news-story/7460958-a-way-to-teach-babies-second-language-if-parents-only-speak-one/), have shown there is a direct correlation between these qualities of foreign language classes and students’ mastery of the language. Effectively, passing the bill wouldn’t only result in less creative, less congenial, and less culturally aware programmers but also less creative, less congenial, and less culturally aware foreign language students, meaning all students suffer. In trying to find a solution to the fact that America is behind other countries in the tech space, the proposed bill creates more problems in the form of less well-rounded graduates.

Works Cited: 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

jane-swift/make-language-

learning-a-priority_b_6801296.

html

https://www.mondo.com/foreign-

vs-coding-languages-in-

schools/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

zach-simon/can-learning-a-new-

langua_b_4998795.html

10 Words English Speakers Are Missing Out On

Uh um eh. We often find ourselves tripping on our words. This inability to articulate our thoughts can be the unfortunate side effect of nerves when addressing a crowd, discomfort talking to a stranger, or tiredness after a late night. However, it’s not always our fault at all. In fact, the English language is missing some words to succinctly describe a situation or feeling. Below is a list of just 10 of these words in foreign languages that efficiently express sentence-long concepts in English. Fun fact: the concepts that the English language doesn’t have words to describe are often unpopular, unaccepted or previously non-existent in our culture, which reveals how critical a role culture plays in language evolution. You may not want to integrate these words into your daily English conversation, but they are perfect for trivia or an icebreaker and they shed light on the power of language to provide speakers with the agency to voice thoughts.

1. German: kummerspeck

Ever drown your sorrows in chocolates after a heartbreak or dive into a pint of ice cream after a cruel day at the office? If you have fallen victim to the emotion-induced indulgence and seen progress in your cookie pack instead of six-pack, you can probably relate to this word, which directly translates to mean “grief bacon.”

2. Japanese: wabi sabi

In English, we sometimes call things “perfectly imperfect.” The Japanese have eloquently expounded on this oxymoron by giving a name to the ability to find the beauty in flaws and to accept life’s cyclic nature of growth and decay. American singer Lana Del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful” asks “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful?” and is therefore somewhat of an ode to this this subject matter.

3. French: seigneur-terraces

In Starbucks, you can always spot the people who haven’t bought a lot but are really just there to hang out, read a book, research for a paper, answer emails, or just kinda people watch. You know who you are. Well, the French have ingeniously come up with a word to describe these individuals who should owe rent to the coffee shop.

4. Italian: slampadato

The girl or guy at the party who is just a little bit too orange for comfort and definitely owns a membership to the tanning salon is perfectly described by this one word.

5. Mexican Spanish: pena ajena

Overhearing the silence after a colleague makes a bad joke to a group of coworkers or watching on as a woman in heels trips down the steps to the subway can cause you to cringe yourself. This discomfort born of others’ actions and the natural human urge to sympathize is described by this Spanish expression. While there was never a way to describe this feeling in English, kids today have come up with the phrase “second-hand embarrassment.” This goes to show how our language is evolving to fill holes that other languages filled long ago.

6. Russian: toska

Friend: “Are you okay?”

You: “Not really.”

Friend: “What’s wrong?”

You: “I don’t know.”

Such a conversation might ensue when you feel an emptiness or lack of fulfillment that can’t be attached to anything specifically. You might desire something without knowing what that something is.  We have all experienced it, but most of us bottle it up or sweep it under the rug, because it’s hard to communicate to those we trust and/or love. The Russians have crated a solution to this problem by having a word to describe this feeling.

7. Arabic: ya’aburnee

If you were assigned the task to write a paper analyzing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, this Arabic word, meaning the desire to die before someone else, because life without him or her would be too difficult, could prove useful.

8. Portuguese: saudade

When your child loses his or her favorite stuffed animal to the devastating toilet plunge, he or she is suffering from this feeling: a yearning for something or someone that has been lost.

9. Chinese: yuan bei

The deal you have been staffed to at your job, the deal whose pitch you spent sleepless nights writing, you ran by seventeen different superiors, you revised thousands of times, and you cried about more than you would like to admit, just closed. That inexplicable sense of pride in yourself and the perfection of your work is no longer inexplicable thanks to this Chinese word.

10. Korean: dapjeongneo

When you ask your significant other, “Does this piece of clothing make me look fat?” or “Do you even think I’m pretty/handsome?” There is only one acceptable answer. If you have ever been on the receiving end of those questions, you know that. This concept of there being a “correct” answer that a person has no choice but to give has its own recently added word in Korean but no English counterpart as of yet.

 

Works Cited:

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/more-languages-better-brain/381193/

http://mentalfloss.com/article/50698/38-wonderful-foreign-words-we-could-use-english

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-01/emotions-which-there-are-no-english-words-infographic

https://www.google.com/amp/s/matadornetwork.com/abroad/20-awesomely-untranslatable-words-from-around-the-world/amp/

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170126-the-untranslatable-emotions-you-never-knew-you-had

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.lingholic.com/15-untranslatable-words-wish-existed-english/amp/

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Did You Know Every Parent is Bilingual?

baby-talk

“Don’t talk to me like a baby!” You might be familiar with this phrase if you have an older child or have gotten into a spat with a partner or colleague. While baby talk can be construed as condescending when directed at an older individual, it is actually critical to the cognitive development and language learning of infants and toddlers. Linguists and child psychologists refer to baby talk more often as child-directed speech. Many aspects of child-directed speech allow it to facilitate language learning, such as the following:

High-pitch and tone variation

These qualities characteristic of child-directed speech make it more stimulating, effectively causing the words spoken to be more memorable.

Repetition

Children’s first words are often the ones they hear the most often. This is because repetition is a key component that drives memorization. Thus, the repetition common in child-directed speech helps children learn the language.

Reduplication

When using child-directed speech, parents often say expressions like “woof woof” and “beep beep.” This specific type of repetition, called reduplication, also helps with memorization and language learning.

Isolation

Sentences and phrases formed when using child-directed speech tend to include the most important word at the end. For example, parents might say “oh look at the cute little doggy” instead of “there is a cute dog right over there.” This isolation of the word dog helps children learn the word, because they can separate the noises associated with saying the word from the rest of the phrase.

When children imitate child-directed speech, they are actually imitating and learning proper grammar.

One theory about language acquisition is that much of children’s knowledge is innate. Specifically, some linguists have asserted that children are born with knowledge of syntactic structures and then utilize imitation to learn words to fit into those structures. Complete foreknowledge of grammatical structure prior to birth seems unlikely, especially given this structure is unique to every language. In fact, a closer look at child-directed speech reveals that it is far more properly structured than casual, fragmented conversation between adults. When children imitate child-directed speech, they are actually imitating and learning proper grammar. While children’s capacity to learn may be innate, their language learning is in many ways an imitation game.

Each and every parent around the world is fluent in both his or her native tongue and child-directed speech.

Child-directed speech doesn’t just exist here in the United States and with English, but in a plethora of cultures and with a multitude of languages. Each and every parent around the world is fluent in both his or her native tongue and child-directed speech. This form of bilingualism is pertinent to infants’ and toddlers’ first language acquisition and cognitive development.

Just like child-directed speech improves cognitive development in infants and toddlers, so does learning a foreign language.

While parents adopt this child-directed speech with ease, infants and toddlers could also adopt another language with ease. Children can learn more than one language at a time without conflating the two or hindering their progress towards fluency in their native language. In fact, children are noted to become more native-like speakers in a foreign language if they learn the language at a very young age. Just like child-directed speech improves cognitive development in infants and toddlers, so does learning a foreign language. As it happens, children who learn another language at a young age are said to be able to concentrate better in spite of outside stimulus, an important skill in an age when technology, among other things, has become a huge distraction.

While all parents are fluent in their native tongue and child-directed speech, not all parents are fluent in other foreign languages… cue Little Pim.

In conclusion, while many people may not appreciate when you speak to them like a baby, your infant or toddler loves it. Your child’s engagement with child-directed speech makes it a useful tool to teach words and proper grammatical structures. Via aiding in first language acquisition, child-directed speech improves a child’s cognitive development, just as learning a foreign language can. While all parents are fluent in their native tongue and child-directed speech, not all parents are fluent in other foreign languages… cue Little Pim. Let us join you and your child on a path towards intellectual growth.

Works Cited:

http://pandora.cii.wwu.edu/vajda/ling201/test4materials/ChildLangAcquisition.htm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3937814/Why-baby-talk-GOOD-children-Speaking-motherese-helps-develop-language-skills-faster.html

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-05-motherese-important-children-language.html

http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2009/05/learning-second-language-good-childhood-mind-medicine

Father's Day Language Learning Fun

fathers-day-bbq

Father’s Day, Sunday June 18th, is a time to celebrate family, love, and happiness. All of the warm sentiments conjured on this day will mirror the warm weather forecasted in New York, where Little Pim is based, creating perfect conditions to have a wonderful day. What could make the day any better? Foreign language. While a shared appreciation for a father figure unites a family, exposure to a foreign language can unite an immigrant or multicultural family with its roots and can unite a curious family around a common love for learning. Language learning can be seamlessly incorporated into your plans for the day, whether you are attending a barbecue, heading to the beach, or staying in the comforts of your own home. It’s not only easy but fun, so read on for some helpful tips.

Barbecue

As you are slicing the fruit for a platter or tossing the salad to kick off the barbecue, you can make use of the vibrant array of colors on display to teach your child another language. The Little Pim flash card sets include the words for colors for each language offered. Accordingly, even if you aren’t proficient in the language you would like to teach, the cards can provide you with the necessary vocabulary to turn this fairly boring task into a fun language learning opportunity.

Moreover, as the adults surround the grill, and conversations about work inevitably ensue, your child might grow bored. To keep them happy and engaged, you can simply hand over your iPad. While this parenting move often leads to gaming, which isn’t necessarily intellectually challenging or fruitful for your child, you can use Little Pim livestream, to turn this moment into another language learning opportunity.

As the eating winds down and everyone is still gathered around the table or fire pit, you can introduce a fun language learning game to liven up the mood. In the game, you can choose a flashcard from the deck at random. You can’t let your child see it. Similar to the wildly popular game “Heads Up,” your child then holds the card to their forehead. Make sure to have the English translation side face the rest of the table. The other family members and friends have to give verbal hints or act out gestures based on which your child can guess the word in English. Once your child has successfully guessed the word, in order to earn a bonus point, he or she must translate the word into the foreign language of your choice.

Beach

As you pack your bag for the beach, make an assembly line with you and your child. As you pick up an item, pass it to your child and have him or her try to name the word in the foreign language. Many of the words that would likely be useful during this exercise are part of the flashcard sets, but below is a short list with translations into French and Spanish for your convenience.

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 10.55.04 AM.png

The highly anticipated ocean entry is another chance for you to involve some language learning into Father’s Day fun. While some kids are hesitant to enter the cold water, you can make it less intimidating by turning it into a game. You can call out what is written on one side of the flashcard and have them translate into or from English. Each correct answer can be a step backward towards “safety,” and each incorrect answer can be a step closer to the waves, or vice versa if your child is excited to go into the water.

The car ride home is perfect chance to pop in a French Bop or Spanish Bop CD. More information and statistics encouraging listening to music sung in a foreign language can be found in a recent blog posting.

Day at Home

languages-for-kids

If Father’s Day will be low-key at home for you and your family, language learning might be the perfect stimulus to brighten the day. For example, while your child is writing that cute letter to Dad that you will save for years to come, you can teach them how to say some of the words in his or her letter in other languages.

While below is a short list of words and phrases your child is likely to use translated into French and Spanish, Little Pim’s content covers many more languages.

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 10.56.36 AM.png

Happy Father’s Day from Little Pim to you and your family! We hope language learning can make an amazing day even better.

Learn a Language to the Beat of Your Favorite Song

You have all likely heard the song “Despacito” (lyric video below) recently, whether you know it or not, as it has been played on every radio station. Justin Bieber’s feature has helped the Spanish song rise to the top of the charts. Fascinatingly, a 2015 census confirmed that in certain Miami communities up to 90% of the population speaks Spanish, and 2016 data notes that nearly 70% of the county is Hispanic. Moreover, in 2015, half of New Yorkers were recorded to speak a language besides English at home. The success of the song coupled with these statistics demonstrate how culturally integrated our society has become. Whether or not you currently live in an urban metropolis, like Miami or New York, where cross-cultural interaction is extremely frequent, teaching your child foreign languages at a young age is not only fun but prepares them to thrive in an increasingly globalized world.

Knowing more than one language, which can start with learning a simple song, opens doors for your children in the classroom and in the workplace.

Let’s talk about some more boring statistics so that I can show you the value of turning on a song in a foreign language. Only 1.5% of the students enrolled in higher education in the 2014-2015 school year studied abroad. Each of these students, by immersing themselves in a different culture, often speaking a different language, propelled personal and future professional growth. The ability to recognize and appreciate cultural differences via an immersive experience motivates a certain respect that is often lacking among individuals in such a polarized political and social climate in the US. Additionally, the fluency in a language and understanding of cultural norms and traditions of a country brought about by a study-abroad also make an individual a greater asset to potential employers, as 95% of consumers across the globe live outside of the US. 95%! Learning the language of that culture prior to visiting maximizes the power of this experience to spur development. Afford your child the same personal and professional benefits as this mere 1.5% of students by teaching them a foreign language and exposing them to a different culture.

After being exposed to data that connotes language learning’s capacity to permit personal and professional growth, a parent is saddled with the question: how do I get my child excited about language learning?

You have likely subconsciously heard the answer to this question in listening to songs like “Despacito.” Kids respond very positively to music, and there are countless simple songs that can provide a perfect introduction to a foreign language. Little Pim, as a company dedicated to making language-learning fun and accessible, has compiled some of these songs into Spanish and French CD’s for kids. As the heat waves roll in and you and your family begin planning summer road trips or weekend getaways, these CD’s are the perfect in-car activity. If you are a bilingual family, you may be able to immediately pick up the lyrics and sing along with the CD as your child learns. If you are learning alongside your child, it can be a beautiful bonding experience.

Language learning doesn’t have to be extremely serious or scary. It can start with a single CD and turn into a worthwhile investment in your child’s future.

Spanish Bop album with lyrics. 15 fun children songs for children.
Spanish Bop album with lyrics. 15 fun children songs for children.
French Bop Album with 15 songs that your children can sing along to.
French Bop Album with 15 songs that your children can sing along to.

Simple Ways to Introduce Your Kids to Foreign Languages

Introducing children to foreign languages is not a far cry from encouraging kids to try sports. However, so long as our parental motives are pure, foreign languages are the simpler of the two! The following list includes unique ways to introduce your kids to foreign languages. You can integrate these ideas into Spring/Summer plans already made, and don't you worry, no athletic ability required!

Travel

Are you taking a trip via plane, car, or bike? Invite your child to be the guide! Previously teach and discuss key vocabulary words used when traveling through the foreign country. Make your tiny guide a badge, and write in the language he/she is learning. If your child is too young, then it's you! Role play as a pilot, taxi driver, or tour guide. Use new, simple vocabulary, and be sure to note the scenery you spot! If your child is just beginning, have him/her repeat the key words after you. You can also use music CDs and videos found here to keep them learning on-the-go.

Travel Vocabulary (English to Spanish)

Airport -----> el aeropuerto Plane -----> el avión Trip -----> el viaje Suitcase/bag -----> la maleta Bus -----> el autobús Train -----> el tren Ticket -----> el boleto Pilot -----> el piloto

Go all out: Dress the part, and pack along common snacks or candies found in your country of study.

Stuck Indoors

fun-language-learning

Whether you've been quarantined for days, or a few hours which feel as long, Little Pim offers of award-winning language learning videos and companion products to bring foreign languages into your home. Make a game with the flashcards and allow your child to quiz you! Read board books before nap time as your child snuggles a Little Pim panda plush.

Do you have any bilingual friends? Invite them over for a multicultural meal and let them know you're interested in introducing your child to the foreign language and culture. Request for this friend to speak only in the language new to your child. Before your guest arrives, discuss with your child a few questions to ask. If your child is a bit older, he/she can even conduct an interview.

Go all out: Prepare a cuisine native to the foreign country of study.

Outdoor Games

Plan a scavenger hunt! Using the foreign language of choice, give direction and leave clues for your child. Allow your child to invite friends to help solve the mystery of lost treasure. As for the treasure itself, pick up a new video, book, or tickets to a cultural experience; anything to further teach in an unforgettable way.

plan-a-picnic

Pack a picnic! Bring along library books, trinkets, and colorful pictures of foods served in the appropriate country. Have your child make labels for each food item before you pack them. Play foreign music as you eat.

Go all out: Dine at the same time persons native to the country of study are also eating. As you eat your meal, excite your child, "It's as if we're really there!"

Need more resources, products, or help choosing which foreign language is best to introduce to your child? Please check out our language guide or email us at help@littlepim.com with any question. Little Pim is grateful to help!

The Benefits of Starting Early: Why Your Kids Need to Learn Another Language Now

Our world is no longer constrained by the borders on a map. It has become increasingly global in every realm from business to social relationships. For a child to flourish in this new and diverse climate, it's important that they get multilingual exposure and begin learning a foreign language before age 6 to experience the most benefits. In most non-English-speaking nations, particularly in Europe; instruction in another language is mandatory. Not only are children taught a second language, but they are often are raised in an environment where they are exposed to multiple languages; necessitating the acquisition of multiple tongues.

In places such as Switzerland and Belgium, there are many recognized languages and dialects, and therefore it is not uncommon for someone to speak three or four different languages. Meanwhile, the vast majority of English-speaking countries have no national mandate for teaching children a second language.

In the United States, foreign language instruction is lacking. According to an article in The Atlantic, only 1% of American adults were proficient in a foreign language. Many aren't exposed to a foreign language until their college years.

The United States isn't the only nation that fails to expose students to foreign languages at a critical age. According to Arlene Harris in her article, Learning the Lingo: Taking up a Foreign Language Before We're 3?; Ireland "lags behind the rest of Europe and should be starting kids off before they're 3."

It is a predominately western problem, perhaps because we are leaving an era dominated by English-speaking business and culture. With the advent of the Internet, success has spread in every direction; including eastward, with the future of industry looking strongly toward Asia and the Pacific. Children must learn languages early to stay ahead of the competition.

Most countries in Europe begin language instruction around the age of seven or earlier. It's not only possible, but beneficial for the budding mind. According to Dr. David Carey, "“All The children can learn another language at an early age [...] [The] young brain, before the age of 5, is able to learn to speak another language without developing an accent — to speak it like a native."

Starting language learning early has documented benefits. The childhood brain is elastic and able to learn and retain a multitude of information that someone in their early 20's would struggle with. It's been documented that it's easier for children to learn a second language than adults, so why wait until college to begin learning such an important skill? Exposing your children early is critical, and Little Pim has the resources you need to get them going!