Congratulations on choosing the most effective method for introducing babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers to a second or third language at the time they learn best. The series is especially designed to take advantage of the critical window when young minds are hard-wired to learn up to three languages with ease, which is up to six years old.
There are numerous benefits of learning a second language early in life. Children who are consistently exposed from a very young age to the sounds of a foreign language are more likely to achieve native or near-native fluency in adulthood and have a much easier time learning other languages later in life. Research shows that these children also tend to have stronger verbal, cognitive and analytical skills – giving them a head start in school.
Simply put, learning a second language boosts brain power, even if the child does not achieve total fluency.
“He who knows no foreign languages knows nothing of his own.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
It's that time of year again! The holidays are just around the corner. If you're raising a bilingual child, it also seems like an unproductive time for language learning. You're busy with orchestrating the perfect "winter wonderland" at home and carrying out all of the family traditions. Grandma's visiting and you're taking off work. Who has the time to sit down for language lessons? Even if you do have the time, who wants to do book work while Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is on? The kids are out of school for most of the month, after all! Why make them study during their break?
Hold your horses. Even during the season of cheer, your kiddos shouldn't "pause" their language learning efforts. We know that kids lose some (alright, a lot) of the progress they made during the school year over the summer. Kids lose two months worth of reading skills and computational math skills over the summer. As for that Spanish class? You can forget about it. Literally. But, what's the difference when your kids are off in December as opposed to the two month break that most kids in North America get from June to September?
Although experts at the college-level agree that it's not as significant as the "summer dump," it's still worth it to continue learning into the winter to avoid a total information brain freeze. From Thanksgiving to New Years, your child will have a lot of down-time. There are lots of simple things you can do to keep their mind engaged in language learning over the holidays.
Here are a few fun ideas that will help keep your children's' minds active this winter:
Foreign Language Journaling
Depending on the age of your child, encouraging them to keep a physical journal over the break actually helps retain and improve the skills learned in school. Inspire their creativity with response prompts in both English and their target language. To gain their interest, suggest prompts related to the season at hand. For elementary students, here's 77 prompts to inspire their winter writing.
Journaling in another language is actually a great way to advance in it. There's a well documented link between handwriting and knowledge acquisition. Some college professors ban electronic note taking for this reason. There's also the freedom to make mistakes without being made fun of; a common anxiety among those who wish to speak another language. Encourage them to practice their new language, reminding them that a journal is a safe place to express themselves without fear of having their mistakes overanalyzed.
According to experts, reading is the number one action students should take in order to avoid a mental deep-freeze. If they're too young to take the initiative themselves, you can read with and to them to reap the benefits. Encouraging your child to read over the holidays is one of the easiest ways to keep them engaged, as books are accessible through local libraries, create meaningful interactions with the family, and are portable for holiday travels. Getting lost in a good story is also just plain fun!
To encourage language learning, you can purchase (or borrow) dual language books, which allow your child to read a story in both languages side-by-side. Dual language books are available in many languages and improve language acquisition and vocabulary in bilingual children. There are even some available for free on Trilingual Mama's website.
It's not just beneficial for learning another language, either. According to a study done at the University of Calgary, the introduction of dual-language books into classrooms improved overall literacy skills.
Cultural Field Trips
Field trips shouldn't just be left to the school. A recent study from the University of Arkansas indicated that students learn more about a subject when exposed to it on a field trip versus the classroom. In particular, the empathy and cultural understanding of disadvantaged students was shown to improve after being taken on field trips. Since field trips offer an opportunity to expose children to different cultures, they're an excellent way to foster bilingualism. We know that language isn't just about conjugation, nor is culture all about tradition. Culture influences language and vice versa. Consider visiting a museum or other cultural exhibit with your children during the holiday season, like a local Hispanic heritage museum.
Multicultural Holiday Traditions
This time of year is an excellent one for cultural immersion, as every culture has its own holiday traditions. Attend a festival, or guide your child in an activity that relates to the traditions of another culture. If you're teaching your child Spanish, consider attending a Posada party. If they're learning Russian, participate in the New Year's tradition of Father Frost and discuss the similarities and differences between Father Frost and Santa Claus. This will get your child fired up about another culture - something that's important for success in another language.
At Little Pim, we offer amazing products that will help your young child learn a new language. Consider beating those winter woes by starting your child on one of our 12 language programs today.
The benefits of introducing your baby to another language are well documented. In our rapidly globalizing society, knowing a second (or third) language provides an obvious edge over the competition in the job market.
But, what about its impact on childhood development? While some would suggest that over-exposure to foreign language may cause delay in speaking, this assumption is both unproven and outweighed by the benefits dual-language babies experience as they grow.
We know the many benefits, so the question soon becomes: “When do we start?”
The answer is surprising. According to an article by the Intercultural Development Research Association, it may be most beneficial to begin second language exposure before six months of age. In a study by psychologist Janet Werker, infants as young as four months of age successfully discriminated syllables spoken by adults in two different languages. Dr. Werker’s work also determined a possible decline in foreign language acquisition after 10 months of age. To give your child their best start, you must begin early.
How is this so? The answer can be found in the complex world of the human brain. Our brains react uniquely to language learning at any age, even growing when stimulated by another language. While mankind can acquire a language at mostly any stage, it is exceptionally difficult to do so outside of childhood. From infancy to age five, the brain is capable of rapid language acquisition. Even so, there are varying degrees of acquisition, even for children. After six months of age, infants begin distinguishing the differing sounds of their native tongue and others. Beyond six months, exposing your little one to a brand new language will pose a challenge.
That is not to say that teaching your two year-old French is a bad idea! It is merely to say that the earlier you begin teaching your child, the better.
Though most babies wont utter their first words before eleven months of age, they develop complex mental vocabularies through the piecing together of “sound maps.” As they gather from what they are exposed to, an infant who hasn’t been immersed in another language during this delicate stage will not piece together adequate sound maps to differentiate another language.
The reason for this is rooted in the brain at birth. Children are born with 100 billion brain cells and the branching dendrites that connect them. The locations that these cells connect are called synapses; critical components in the development of the human brain. These synapses are thought to “fire” information from one cell to another in certain patterns that lead to information becoming “hardwired” in the brain. The synapses transmit information from the external senses to the brain via these patterns, thus causing the brain to interpret them, develop, and learn from them. From birth to age three, these complex synapses cause infants to develop 700 neural connections per second.
These synapses are critical in sound mapping, and at the age of six months, the infant brain has already begun to “lock in” these new patterns and has difficulty recognizing brand new ones. This is because although your baby is born with all of the neurons they’ll ever need, that doesn’t mean that they’ll “need” all 100 billion. Infancy to the age of three is filled not only with rapid neural expansion, but also with neural “pruning;” a process in which unnecessary connections are nixed and others are strengthened.
Exactly which connections are pruned and which are cultivated is partially influenced by a child’s environment. Synapses are cultivated or pruned in order of importance to ensure the easiest, most successful outcome possible for a functioning human being. If a function is not fostered during this stage, it is likely that the neural connections associated with it will fade. For the brain to see a skill as important, you must make it important.
To put it plainly, if you only speak to your child in English, the infant brain sees no reason to retain a neural pathway regarding the little Mandarin it has heard. Babies learn about their environment at every age and are internally motivated from birth to do so. Your baby wants to learn and does so by exploring and mimicking the world around them. They’re entirely capable of building a complex knowledge of Mandarin, Arabic, or Italian. So, why not feed their mind and start now?
You might find yourself overwhelmed by all the information and advice on how to introduce a new language to your child. There are many products out there, but your child’s best teacher is You! These tips will help you get comfortable introducing the new language:
Keep it simple One of the best ways to integrate a new language is by using it during your simple daily tasks. Babies and toddlers are constantly learning about the world around them. Using a second language during your bed or bath time routines is a perfect way to ease into your new bilingual journey.
Have the whole family join in The more you use the preferred second language, the faster your child will pick it up. Encourage others in your family, adults and older children, to use the language too. Use holiday and family dinners as a platform to keep introducing the second language.
Repeat, repeat, repeat Learning a new language is all about repetition. You might start feeling like a parrot but it will pay off! As your child gets older, they might choose to only speak in English, no worries, just make sure that you repeat back what they said in the language you are trying to introduce. Repetition in your daily life is a great tool that will have great results.
Make it fun Raising bilingual children should be fun. Play games, sing songs and embrace the silliness of it all. Keeping it fun is very important because making mistakes is a part of learning and you want your child to not feel discouraged. You can get more specific and learn traditional games and songs.
Little Pim offers great easy-to-use language learning products that you can integrate into your family life. Your child can start watching our award-winning series today! Get started on a fun, life-long journey!
Creating bonds is a very important part of raising children. It allows them to feel nurtured and loved. Sharing your native language with your child is a great bonding experience that can have a life-long impact.
Many parents that are raising bilingual children have ties to the language through family. The technology that we have today makes it so easy to communicate with family that is far away. Your child will have the great advantage of communicating and forming bonds with the extended family. Being able to communicate not only broadens social skills, it definitely expands the family tree.
For a fun craft, build a family tree with your little ones when they are old enough to recognize names and photos of relatives. Talk about the relationships between each family member and go over relevant vocabulary in your native language, i.e. words for mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, etc.
Languages are more than just words. There is a lot of tradition within them. Through the words of your native language, your child will learn about food and traditional dishes, they will learn about music and instruments. They will hear stories that have been told through generations and pick up books of great writers. They will be able to have an understanding and participate in these traditions. The bond between you, your child and family will have stronger roots.
The gift that keeps on giving
Sharing your native language with your child really is a gift. It will not only set up great advantages when he/she is an adult venturing out in the world, but it will instill a strong sense of self and an emotional connection to others. One day, your child will be in the position to pass down all of the great treasures that are wrapped inside the words of that second language.
Need some help introducing your child to a second language? Little Pim makes it fun and easy to learn a new language with resources your child will love! Comment below if you have any questions!
Experts around the globe agree that language learning begins at a young age. Adults that attempt to learn a new language often struggle, whereas small children have the unique ability to latch on to multiple languages at a time. However, many parents face a dilemma when it comes to the decision of exactly when a child's exposure to another language should begin. It's a topic that poses many valid questions among parents and educators: "When should I begin teaching my child a second (or third) language?"
"Should I wait until they can talk?"
"Should I wait until they've mastered English?"
"Will exposing them to too many languages at once cause communication difficulties later on?"
Science has shown us the answer, and it's groundbreaking. Babies can learn multiple languages at a time and have no delay in language development as a result. In fact, beginning multilingual exposure in infancy may give your child an edge over their peers later on. Oral vocabulary is critical for children as they achieve literacy in any language, which doubles when a child is fluent in more than one language.
A University of Washington study determined that children exposed to other languages during the first year of life fared better in preschool due in part to the fact that their vocabularies were greatly increased. The bilingual children in the study were shown to understand written language at an earlier age than their peers.
Children should be exposed to multilingualism as early as possible. 6-month-old babies can understand spoken language with great clarity. Infants as young as 7 months can understand and keep their languages separate. As children reach a verbal age, they commonly mix languages together, but this is not at all a bad thing. It is a common occurrence in young and old bilinguals alike, called "code switching." Code switching is an almost universal step for children as they learn to verbalize multiple languages correctly. Children that mix their languages do so only temporarily, whereas adults that learn later in life commonly struggle with it.
You can teach your child several languages at once without "damaging" them in any way. Considering that over 60% of the world population is multilingual in some way, it's easy to see that human beings are hardwired to know more than one from the start.
Learn more about the benefits and how to raise your children to be bilingual at Mom Loves Best.
Read the full Mom Loves Best blog post on “How Your Child Can Benefit From Being Bilingual” by Jenny Silverstone for more helpful tips and information.
Here at Little Pim, we have many products that encourage language immersion from an early age. Do you have any little polygots running around? If so, let us know in the comments below!
Teaching your child a second, or even third language, is exciting, stimulating, and fun, not to mention an experience that will bring you and your child closer. Moreover, the best part is you will be doing a great service for your child. Approximately, two-thirds of the world is bilingual and in the United States alone, the number of children who speak a language other than English has increased to 21 percent. The benefits of learning another language are well documented; a few of the benefits include:
- - Increased intelligence
- - More fluent verbal skills
- - Greater memory ability
- - Problem-solving savvy
- - Improved cognitive skills
- - Better reading/writing skills
- - Larger worldview
As a parent, you may have a lot of questions about how, where, or when to begin the journey of introducing your child to a new language. Let’s look at a few of the questions parents have.
When is the best time to teach my child?
Research shows that babies and toddlers are prime age for teaching a second language. As astonishing as it sounds, the brain of the baby is wired for learning a language. The sounds of the language are as a pattern to the brain, which acts in ways similar to a computer – coding and decoding the symbols of sound and storing it into the memory. Before the age of six years old is ideal.
How can I possibly teach my child another language when I don’t know the language?
This is probably the biggest concern and hold back for a lot of parents, but with immersion-style videos, books, and entertaining material, your baby can begin learning the language whether you know it or not. Actually, you will learn right along with your child. Engaging videos are a must to attract the attention of the small child. Our Entertainment Immersion Method® engages a child’s natural love of play and learning through repetition. Colorful books to touch, upbeat music, and flashcards all work to reinforce the language.
Where can I find a program that will effectively teach my child another language?
At Little Pim, we have developed a highly-visual, language-learning program that children fall in love with. One reason our program is effective is children can relate to their “teacher,” which happens to be the delightful, animated Little Pim panda bear. The books and videos host the adorable panda so children come to know and love the little bear. They will look forward to learning. One child’s parent is quoted as saying her son “loves the animations of Little Pim and often asks to watch them over and over again. He loves to yell the words he knows…”
Teaching your child a second language has never been more fun. Choose from our 12 language sets to watch a free preview of Little Pim today!