bilingual kids

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

Brush Strokes of Genius

A child’s grip on a pencil starts out loose, like their understanding of cultures and worlds beyond their own. As they master holding the pencil, drawing basic shapes, and later letters, more and more of the unknown comes into focus. They begin to recognize the semi-circular shape of an Iranian mosque’s dome. They are familiarized with the square shape of mosaic tiles in Roman churches. The muscles in their hands know what it’s like to write out characters, the same ones that Shakespeare used to assemble his sonnets. Via these examples, we see how motor skills underlie art, which is a vehicle of cultural exchange. While we at Little Pim often emphasize learning languages as a means of cultural exposure, we want to use this post to highlight learning motor skills as a perfect time to introduce your children to different cultures through art. Accordingly, below is a list of artists from around the world who can inspire activities that will reinforce your children’s motor skills, cultural awareness, and familiarity with art as a tool of self and cultural expression.

Piet Mondrian

tate-museum
tate-museum
  • Dutch
  • 1872-1944
  • Was initially a teacher who painted on the side
  • Started out as a landscape painter
  • Was heavily influenced by the geometric shapes and simplicity of the cubist movement in Paris, where he moved
  • Met Bart van der Leck and Theo van Doesberg, who helped him develop his most famous artistic style, which highlights the beauty underlying simple shapes and primary colors

A child just learning motor skills requires a great deal of concentration just to bring these simple shapes to life. Resultantly, they have a heightened appreciation for them, an appreciation that Mondrian relearned. Your child might thereby be able to relate to an important figure in Dutch culture.

Activity

Ask your children to draw 10 dots at random locations on a piece of paper. Then, have them connect one dot to each of the others on the paper with straight lines. (Use a ruler if straight lines are difficult for them.) Repeat for the other 9 dots. The result is a very cool geometric pattern. Take out primary color markers, colored pencils, or crayons and have them fill in the shapes as they see fit. With that, you have a Mondrian inspired piece ready to be hung on the fridge.

Niki de Saint Phalle

  • French
  • 1930-2002
  • Was a sculptor, painter, and film maker, most widely revered for her monumental sculpture work
  • Had no formal art training
  • Was first recognized for angry, battered works that mirrored emotions associated with a troubled childhood
  • Developed a whimsical, joyous artistic style, child-like in its bright color palette

The fun, quirky nature of these pieces will appeal to your child’s innate happiness and creativity. Let their curiosity take over upon asking what the sculpture below on the left represents.

art-for-kids
art-for-kids

Activity

Break out the colorful Playdough for this activity! Show your child images of Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculptures and let the fun ensue. You can suggest rolling out small segments of different colored dough and connecting them to make a multi-colored snake, which is what I see in the sculpture on the left.

Joan Miró
Joan Miró

Joan Miró

  • Spanish
  • 1893-1983
  • Painter, sculptor, ceramicist
  • Was classically trained in art school but rejected traditional methods and styles later in life, claiming they were created to appease the rich, who commissioned the works
  • Was also inspired by cubism and moved to its epicenter, Paris
  • Classified as a surrealist, who allowed his subconscious mind to take control of his hands

The abstraction of Miró’s pieces reinforce to your children that there is no such thing as perfection, especially in art. It is all about personal perspective and emotions. Encourage them to make “mistakes” and try something wacky in their own pieces.

Activity

Grab a few hangers from the closet, thread/yarn from the sewing kit, scissors, and construction paper. You now have all the tools necessary to make your very own mobile, like the one above on the right, perfect for a younger sibling’s room. Snip the hook off of a hanger; that is how you will be able to hang the mobile. Then, cut a few straight pieces of wire from several hangers. Twist them to attach them to the hook. Splay them out in different directions. Afterwards, cut some pieces of thread/yarn and knot them onto the end of the wires. Go crazy cutting out awesome shapes from the colorful construction paper. Pierce a hole and knot the other ends of the threads into the construction paper cutouts. Boom! Your very own Miró inspired mobile!

wang-guangyi
wang-guangyi

Wang Guangyi

  • Chinese
  • Born 1957
  • Still alive today
  • Went to art school after many failed attempts at college entrance
  • Heavily inspired by the Chinese Cultural Revolution
  • Internationally acclaimed for the “Great Criticism,” which were paintings on top of traditional propaganda
    • Ended the series in fear that its fame undermined its very message, which was that political and commercial advertising is manipulative
    • Continued with political criticism of VISA’s

While less child-like in its appearance than the works of the aforementioned artists, Guangyi is unfiltered and unapologetic for his opinions in his art, just as a child is before he or she is molded to fit into a society that values conformity.

Activity

Let your children make a statement with this next piece of art.  Suggest to your children that they draw how they feel about their least favorite food. See how their emotions translate into art.

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

The Advantage of Multilingualism

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The traditional view of imposing language learning on children is that the two languages would interfere with each other and slow literacy learning. There is some evidence that learning two languages in early education does impose additional stressors on the brain.

  • New evidence suggests that this stress actually improves mental ability.

  • The demand forces the brain to solve some fundamental learning problems which monolingual children never have to face.

The key difference between monolingual and bilingual children goes beyond the ability to control the suppression of one language and select the other language at will.

  • It seems to be about improvements in ability to monitor surroundings and sensitivity to the environment.

  • New studies indicate that the multilingual exposure is manifest in improved social skills in children.

These particular cognitive abilities, are improved through multilingual education:

  • The ability to monitor the environment is especially important for social interaction.

  • Children who have learned how to select among learned languages are better at considering the point of view of others.

This is a critical developmental faculty that the pioneering developmental psychologist Jean Piaget called "decentering."

  • Children in multilingual environments have ample practice considering the point of view of others.

  • They are also more aware that there is more than one point of view.

Children who learn more than one language are often raised in environments surrounded by multiple languages and cultures.

  • They learn early how to see the world through widely varied eyes, a range of different perspectives.

  • They learn to account for other perspectives in their communication and their attitude development.

  • Not only do they become more decentered (in Piaget's terms) but they become less "egocentric" as well.

At Little Pim, we believe that all children deserve to learn a second language. We use a natural immersive method of teaching. Please contact us to learn more.

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!

Infographic: The Benefits of Early Language Learning

Below is an infographic on some of the many benefits of teaching kids a second language at the age they learn best which is before the age of six. Give a child the gift of a second language and watch it pay off over a lifetime! Share this infographic with parents and teachers and explore more of the benefits of bilingualism on our website.

4 Thanksgiving Activities Your Kids Will Love

Crafts are fun ways to get your littlest Thanksgiving guests involved in the celebration and keep them occupied while you are busy hosting and preparing the meal. Here are 4 great Thanksgiving activities for kids

Thankful Chain

Grab some construction paper in a variety of fall colors like orange, brown and red. Cut them into strips, and hand them out to your kids. Give the children markers, and ask them to write one thing they are thankful for on each piece of paper. Have older kids help those who are too young to write.

When the paper strips have all been written on, make a chain by linking them together and securing each with a piece of tape. Use your chain to decorate your front door, or hang it near the Thanksgiving table.

Napkin Rings

Gather some paper towel roles, and cut them into sections of about 2 inches each. Give kids construction paper, glue, Thanksgiving stickers, glitter, ribbon and any other craft supplies you like. Have the children decorate each paper towel section. Use them as napkin rings at the table.

These also make great gifts for grandparents or other family members when you are eating at someone else's house.

Paper Plate Hand Print Turkey

Give each child several pieces of construction paper in fall colors. Trace their hands, and cut them out.

Cut a paper plate in half, and ask the kids to glue their paper handprints onto the plate in a fanned out pattern. Cut out about a 2 inch diameter circle, and glue it in the middle of the plate. Use markers or googly eyes to make a turkey face on the circle. Glue on a construction paper gobble.

Leaf Rubbing Place Cards

Get a piece of card stock for each person at your table, and fold these in half so they stand up.

Gather strong, sturdy, green leaves from outside. Place the leaves under a thin piece of paper, and rub crayons over the paper on top of the leaves to create a pretty pattern. Cut the paper to fit the card stock, and glue it on top. Use a permanent marker to write the name of each guest on the card stock.

Try these 4 fun Thanksgiving craft ideas. Your kids will be proud to display their artwork as part of the holiday decor.

For more kid-friendly activities, check out our post on a multicultural Thanksgiving. If you have any tips or activities to share, please comment below. Thanks for reading and we hope you and your loved ones have a fantastic holiday season!

Bilingualism: Benefits of Learning Arabic

arabic-for-kids
arabic-for-kids

There are many articles stating the benefits of being bilingual, but not many go into the benefits of being bilingual in a certain language. If you are teaching your child another language anyway, why not choose one that will improve their future career opportunities, such as Arabic? Here are a few ways that learning Arabic will enhance your child's future. Commonality

Arabic is the national language of 20 countries and is the fifth most spoken language in the world. By teaching your child Arabic, you will be giving her the ability to communicate with over 300 million people.  The majority of native speakers are concentrated in the Middle East, but with Arabic being the language of Quran, Muslims all over the world speak the language.

High Demand

With the increasing importance of the Middle East in international affairs, there is a growing demand for speakers of Arabic. Few Westerners ever attempt to learn the language, so there is little supply to meet the demand. Those who know the language are needed in many fields including journalism, translation, education, intelligence, and government service.

Financial Incentives

Arabic has been declared a language of strategic importance. Not only will many careers offer a hiring bonus or higher salary to those who speak it, but the National Strategic Language Initiative also offers scholarships and more learning opportunities, including study abroad programs.

Culture

The Middle East has a rich and fascinating culture. Be it the food, literature, music, or history, culture is a lot more interesting to explore in its native language. Arabic-speaking countries have also made significant contributions to medicine, science, and philosophy over the centuries. Much of this learning, along with that of the Roman, Greek, and Byzantine empires, has been preserved in Arab libraries.

Intercultural Understanding

Most of your child's exposure to Arabic culture is likely to be through negative media representations or one-sided stereotypes in films. These false representations can create feelings of mistrust towards Muslims and the Arabic people. With over 3.5 million people of Arab heritage residing in the U.S and over half of them reporting experiencing racial discrimination, teaching your child about their culture can potentially minimize conflict.

What are you waiting for? Get started teaching your child Arabic today! If you have any tips or experiences teaching your little ones Arabic, please comment below.

Bonding With Your Child Through Your Native Language

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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.

Family ties

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.

Cultural traditions

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

native-language-kids

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!

Bilingualism: Reading With Your Child

reading-with-kids

Extracurricular reading, throughout the year, is one of the best ways to assure children continue to develop language and reading skills fluidly. Children tend to lose weeks or even months of learning when they do not practice their newly acquired language and reading skills over the summer months and other school breaks. Reading at home is essential to helping your child continue to grow his skills. When your child is bilingual, it is of particular importance to include reading materials from both languages. There are ways to help your child to enjoy reading, if he or she does not, already. Many competing interests pull children away from academic pursuits. Reading in the second language can cement skills and provide a fun distraction, especially if reading time is also special parent-child time.

Popular children's books available in other languages

Following are some suggested children's books for preschool and grade school children. It is necessary for your child's academic progress that you select books from her reading grade level, rather than her actual grade level if she is reading to herself. Many children read above grade level, and some read below grade level. Your child's progress in both reading skills and language development, when reading appropriate books regularly, will increase. When reading aloud to your child, you can both enjoy more advanced books, which helps with their comprehension.

For preschool children, most often, you will read to them. Use your finger to point to words as you read. The left to right process is an essential pre-reading skill for English, Spanish, and many other languages; while some other languages use right to left pattern, such as in Hebrew text. Pointing helps your child understand the left to right, or the right to left pattern, for the languages they learn.

Each book listed below shows the foreign language versions from readily available online sources.

  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (Spanish, German, French, Japanese, Korean)
  • In a Small, Small, Pond by Denise Fleming (picture book - have your child create the story from the pictures, using the second language)
  • Harold and The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (Spanish, French, Korean)
  • Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, Hebrew, Mandarin)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Spanish, German, French, Mandarin)
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess (Spanish, French, Italian, Hebrew)
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle (Spanish, French, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese)
  • I'll love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw (Spanish, French)
  • MyFaceBook by Starbright Books ( Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, Korean, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, Hebrew, Portuguese)

Read Aloud Chapter Books

  • Charlottes Web by E.B.White (Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Korean)
  • Ramona and Beezus by Beverly Cleary (Spanish, French, Japanese, Portuguese)
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis (Spanish, German, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean)
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (German, French, Mandarin, Russian, Italian, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Portuguese, Korean)

These are a few books to get you started on you bilingual reading lists. Once your child has identified the authors he especially enjoys, you can encourage him to explore more of that writer's work.

For more information on enriching your child's bilingual education, let Little Pim be your go-to source.