This week, Little Pim met Karen Ong, the founder and CEO of Language International, a place where parents can find and compare language study abroad programs for their children and also for themselves. They offer study abroad programs worldwide for kids as young as 3 years old. Karen says their most popular programs include Spanish courses in Spain, French courses in France, and Italian courses in Italy. For parents who want their kids to learn English, there are also English courses in London as well as in other cities in both the US and the UK available.
You've heard it said before, people learn languages fastest when they're younger, before their thinking is set in stone in their native language. In fact, many people who are fluent in two or more languages either learned a second language from their parents when they were young, or lived abroad during this time. Kids growing up in these environments will often learn the second language as effortlessly, and fluently, as they learned their first, helping them in later life. So, if you want to give your kids a linguistic head start, but don't personally speak a second language or know anyone who does, then the best course of action might be exposing them to a new language abroad.
There are multiple summer exchange and language learning programs for teens, but at this point any language learning bonus has probably worn off. However, even for younger children, who obviously require supervision, there are still a number of language learning programs, and other options like tutors and Little Pim DVD's, available. Of course, simply having your kids in a foreign language speaking environment for any length of time would probably have the same effect, as they naturally absorb the foreign tongue around them. Even a yearly vacation to Mexico or Spain for only two weeks at a time can help the young ones pick up some Spanish. Quite simply, to get your kids speaking another language with fluent ease, taking them abroad for any manner of time will do wonders (although obviously the longer the better). If you have a foreign language speaker in the family, or even a nanny who speaks another language, then that can definitely help as well. After all, when it comes to something as positive and character building as learning a new language, it's never too soon to start!