Why Bilingualism is Crucial to Your Child’s Future

bilingualism-child-future

The world is getting smaller and smaller. Jet liners, bullet trains, the internet and new international markets are blurring the lines on our old maps. Our future is changing. The world that our children grow into isn’t going to be the one of ours or our parents. That’s why it’s time to take the future seriously. Parents, grandparents and teachers need to put on their “game faces” and have a serious talk about bilingualism.

When a child is bilingual, their mind opens up to an entirely new world. We know that in this ever-changing global economy, those fluent in more than one language have better odds at a brighter future. The United States has seen a rapid change in language and culture over the last century that has facilitated the growth of professional bilingualism in the public and private sectors.

To put it into layman’s terms: bilingualism = jobs.

Translators have always been an important component at every level of government and business. But translating isn’t the only profession that requires the mastery of another language. Today, educators and medical professionals often find themselves in situations that require the use of a language other than their native tongue.

Complex global affairs have caused leaders to identify a need for bilingual talent within the government. Corporate outsourcing has increased the amount of multilingual interactions in the business world. Many nations around the world are rising as economic superpowers – such as Russia, China, and India – and to learn the languages of such nations increases the desirability of any potential hire.

You must be wondering…how are these things relevant to my child now? 

Foreign language careers are on the rise. When your bright-eyed three-year old graduates from college, she’ll enter into a job market in which multilingualism is a highly sought after skill. Research done by Korn/Ferry International stated that over 66% of North American recruiters felt that being bilingual would become extremely important over the next 10 years. Today, many HR departments require eligible candidates to be bilingual. If you look on any job posting website, you will likely see hundreds of jobs – even part-time work – that require bilingual candidates.

Language learning should start young. Adults can learn languages, but as our brains mature they tend to over-analyze. This makes it incredibly difficult for many adults to pick up a second language. Young children don’t have this problem. According to a study at MIT, children go through a “sensitive period” for language learning that lasts until puberty. Between birth and five years of age, the human brain is hard-wired for learning multiple languages*. After age five, this critical window begins to close and it gets much harder to acquire a new language and a good accent.*

Language learning is proven to “feed the mind.” Learning another language gives kids an educational edge over monolingual peers. Longitudinal studies at Harvard suggested that language learning “increases critical thinking skills, creativity, and flexibility in children.” Speaking more than one language can help kids with planning and problem solving. It also helps children with attention and cognition. According to Psychology Today, children in bilingual environments perform better on standardized tests and have better academic performance in general.

To give your kids a leg up in a competitive educational environment as well as the job market, it’s imperative that language immersion starts now.

Getting your child started in language learning can give them the skills they need for a secure future. At Little Pim, we’re here to help you through that journey by giving you the tools that you need. If you have questions about how Little Pim could benefit your child, or about the benefits of language learning, don’t hesitate to contact us or comment below today.

Ways to Sneak Language Learning in Family Summer Fun

summer-fun

summer-games-kids

In the days before air conditioning and electronics, outdoor family games were a staple of summer evenings. Many times these activities involved both the adults and children, but more often the kids played while the grownups chat and relax. Often the whole neighborhood was involved. Depending on where you lived, you could hear happy voices calling out in Spanish, English, French, and many other languages as well.

Fireflies twinkled in the gathering dark, cool breezes offered relief from the heat of the day, and everyone was ready to unwind and enjoy good company, and good fun, in the late summer evenings. Music rang out, with one adult playing guitar while others sang favorite songs from their cultures.

You can readily update this time-honored tradition, bring in some nostalgia, and further your child’s bilingual education. Following are some family favorites, along with suggestions on ways to help your kids learn a second language.

Badminton – Look for a set at your local sports shop or discount store to bring back Badminton for a fun family outdoor activity. Try keeping score in the second language.

Volleyball – Use your Badminton net for dual purpose and enjoy some fun while teaching the children new skills. Call out vocabulary words and instructions in a second language as the family plays Volleyball together. If you have little ones, use a balloon and try not to let it hit the ground by gently tapping it up and counting to practice your numbers.

Horseshoes – All you need is a stake in the ground and some used horseshoes, or you can buy a set. What is the word for horse in the second language? Practice animal and nature vocabulary in the second language while playing the fun yard game.

Frisbee – Toss around a frisbee and let the family dog join in. Each time someone catches the frisbee they must say a word or phrase from a chosen them in the second language. For younger children, you can say the word in the second language and have your child repeat after you on every throw.

Sidewalk Chalk – There are so many possibilities with sidewalk chalk. Your kiddos will love drawing on the driveway! Get creative and add in language learning activities by playing ‘pictionary’ outdoors with chalk so your little ones can guess the drawing in the second language. Another fun activity would be to draw the map of the language’s country of origin or have the kids draw and color in the country’s flag.

roasting-marshmallowCampfire – Make a fire in a fire pit or other safe area and sing camp songs or tell stories while roasting marshmallows. Bring out the guitar or maracas for even more fun. What songs can you introduce in a second language? Check our Little Pim Spanish Bop and French Bop on our website. You can download your copy instantly to make summer travel a lot more fun!

Now, look back to when you were a child and recreate some of your best summer fun with your kids. How can you involve your children in the culture, memories, and the language of your childhood or the language and culture your kids and family are learning? Time together is how we make lasting memories that children will cherish.

Current brain research and best educational practices show that active, hands-on learning and parental involvement is an unbeatable combination to help further a child’s ability to grasp and retain knowledge. Comment below for more information on Little Pim’s award-winning language learning program for kids ages 0-6.

To make summer travel a lot easier and fun for the little ones, check out our post on Summer Travel Tips with Kids.

8 Do’s and Don’ts of Raising a Multilingual Baby

multilingual-baby

kids-language-learningThe benefits of raising a multilingual child are plenteous. From improved cognitive performance to increased marketability in the future workforce, the multilingual child has the advantage over his/her peers and in life.

Parents can begin the process of teaching their child languages from infancy! Research done by Dr. April Benasich, Little Pim Advisor and Director of the Infancy Studies Laboratory at the Center for Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers University has revealed babies learn languages in a different manner than a person who already knows a language. Those individuals learn a new language primarily through memorization, studying what letters make what sounds, and so on. On the contrary, a baby’s brain unconsciously follows sound patterns, changes in pitch, stress, or tone, and identifies slight changes.

According to various studies, teaching your child new languages between the ages of birth and five years old is the best time to accomplish this goal. Here are our 8 do’s and don’ts of raising a multilingual baby:

Do’s

  • – Make learning languages fun and creative, implementing multilingual videos, flashcards, storybooks, songs, and games (the latter as is appropriate for the age).
  • – Use the immersion technique. Since young children are able to differentiate between phonemes, which are the “sound elements or building blocks of language,” it makes sense that immersing them into an environment where they are continually hearing the language, teaches them effectively.
  • – Create a routine that you and the whole family can consistently stick with. Language learning videos, storybooks, and singing can be weaved into a routine for your child, making the whole concept of learning languages familiar and fun.
  • – Help your older (speaking) child to find opportunities to use his or her newly developed skills in the acquired language. This will build confidence, as well as give practice.

Don’ts

  • – Don’t judge the progress of your child’s advancement by what you see now. Even if your child is not speaking yet, the brain is absorbing the sound patterns, and it is creating new pathways that some day will be evident.
  • – Don’t make learning stressful with either a lot of rigorous-looking “work” or stressful because of your attitude as a parent. Although, you may have the routine you want to be consistent with, keep things light and fun. The whole process should be viewed positively. This is accomplished by using interesting, colorful foreign language materials.
  • – Don’t push your child too hard or too fast. As stated in the Do’s section, using the immersion technique with good quality material will acclimate your child to the language naturally.
  • – Don’t worry if you notice your child is mixing up languages – this is normal when learning another language. Over time, your child will get it straightened out.

multilingual-kidsLearning a second or third language is so much easier for a child, and in today’s world it is fast becoming a necessity to know more than one language. Many parents are taking the step to introduce their child to the wonderful world of language(s).

Little Pim’s award-winning language learning program has successfully helped many children on their journey. Parents are amazed at how wonderful the program works with their child. “Entertaining and engaging” are just some of the words used to express the learning materials. If you would like to learn more about this program, please comment below or contact us today!

Being Bilingual Can Improve All Areas of Your Child’s Life

bilingual-benefits

bilingual-kids

We live in an increasingly global world where learning a second language can give your child many advantages. Learning a foreign language at an early age improves overall fluency, but the issue is that most schools do not offer the opportunity to learn a second language until high school. According to Forbes magazine, we have a “foreign language deficit” in our country, especially when we are compared to other countries. Overseas, most countries require their students to learn English as a second language from a young age. When researching the benefits of bilingualism, it seems that the pros are endless; speaking more than one language can improve social skills, school performance, emotional health, and so much more. With all of the positives that come from being bilingual, it’s a wonder that more young children are not being raised bilingual.

Learning a Second Language Improves School Performance

According to a study performed by Stanford researchers on language, the language children are exposed to in infancy and early childhood has a massive impact on their academic abilities and ability to communicate later in life. The best way to set your child up for success is to teach them both their native language, alongside a foreign language, during the critical period between infancy and six years old. Bilingual children have been proven to score higher on tests throughout their entire school career.

multilingual-babySpeaking Multiple Languages Improves Social Skills

In a piece exploring the superior social skills of bilingual children by Katherine Kinzler, published in the New York Times, she found that children who are bilingual or multilingual have an easier time understanding different perspectives. This is because they have to understand when to speak a certain language, and to whom. This greatly improves their ability to communicate and empathize with people from all different walks of life. For more information about this study, check out our blog post on “Raising a People Person.”

Bilingual Children Tend To Be More Creative

According to a study performed by the University of Strathclyde’s School of Psychological Sciences and Health, children who speak two languages statistically scored higher when it came to creative thinking and problem solving. Bilingual children scored much higher than monolingual children all across the board, in fact; especially when it came to questions assessing their critical thinking skills. In other words, bilingual children’s ability to think outside the box helped them eventually work out answers to questions that they otherwise may not have been able to answer.

It Can Even Improve Emotional Health

Language plays a large role in our emotional health, because it is the only way we can articulate our deepest feelings, whether we choose to write them in a journal or discuss them with friends and family members. The ability to express their emotions in more than one language offers children more opportunity to talk to more people; it’s also a good way to vent their emotions when around those who are monolingual. Also, when observed in school, bilingual children showed a better ability to pay attention and exhibit inhibitory control. It has been shown that bilingual children tend to have better relationships with their teachers and peers as well. Those early experiences with teachers and friends are vital to a child’s emotional health and social development; teaching your child a second language can help ensure those interactions will be positive ones.

Cultural Curiosity and Tolerance

Bilingual children often have a natural curiosity about the country from which their second language originated. From a very young age, they have also been shown to be more tolerant of other cultures; they play more easily with children who come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, they are more likely to engage in play with children who do not speak their language, and they show more of an interest in socializing outside of their usual social circles. Since our world is becoming more globalized every day, the ability to tolerate and show interest in other cultures is an important advantage.

The Benefits Are Endless

There are endless benefits to teaching your child a second language from an early age – this article has only covered a small handful of the advantages your child will get through becoming bilingual! If you would like to introduce your child to a new language, try out Little Pim for free by watching a demo video to get started as soon as possible!

New Brain Studies Indicate Early Childhood is the Best Time to Learn a New Language

brain-studies-babies

It’s proven that the best time to learn a new language is under the age of 6. New studies from the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences indicate “the notion that not only are very young children capable of learning multiple languages, but that early childhood is the optimum time for them to begin.”

In the video below, research scientist and the study’s lead author, Naja Ferjan Ramirez summarizes the results from the brain studies performed on sixteen 11-month-old babies, half raised in bilingual homes and the other half in monolingual homes:

[iframe id=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/TAYhj-gekqw” align=”center” autoplay=”no”]

Our results suggest that before they even start talking, babies raised in bilingual households are getting practice at tasks related to executive function. This suggests that bilingualism shapes not only language development, but also cognitive development more generally, said Ramirez.

It’s amazing to see the results from the brain-recording technique used in the study called magnetoencephalography. “The brains of bilingual babies were specialized to process the sounds of both languages, Spanish and English. The brains of babies from monolingual families were specialized to process the sounds of English and were not sensitive to Spanish,” says Ramirez. No surprise there!

What’s more interesting is that as early as 11 months old, we’re able to see that the bilingual brains showed increased activity in areas related to executive functioning. According to The Center on The Developing Child at Harvard University, when children have the opportunity to develop cognitive skills early on, individuals and society experience lifelong benefits.

Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully….Providing the support that children need to build these skills at home, in early care and education programs, and in other settings they experience regularly is one of society’s most important responsibilities.

Are you ready to teach your little ones a new language? Check out the research behind our method to learn more about how we integrate scientific studies like these to help kids effectively learn languages, both native and foreign.

Foreign Languages for Kids Limited Time Offer! Save 20% on Little Pim with code KIDS

6 Benefits of Raising Bilingual Children

benefits-raising-bilingual-kids

According to the American Community Survey, close to 20% of people in the United States are bilingual. The number of individuals who have the ability to speak more than one language is on the rise. So, why are parents opting to teach their children an additional language (or two)? Just what are some the advantages of being bilingual? Let’s examine 6 benefits of raising bilingual children:

Increased Cognitive Ability

raising-bilingual-kids

Jeffrey Kluger in a Time Magazine article says, “Babies are born with the inherent ability to speak and understand the world’s 6,800 languages, and that babies, and then children, are able to continue to easily learn multiple languages up into early grammar school.”

Kluger goes on to say that later in life, having gained these language abilities as babies and children, multilingual adults “are better at reasoning, at multitasking, at grasping and reconciling conflicting ideas. They work faster and expend less energy doing so, and as they age, they retain their cognitive faculties longer, delaying the onset of dementia and even full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.”

More Flexible Brain

teaching-kids-new-language

The ability to balance two separate languages and alternate between the two when the situation dictates would require a certain degree of flexibility. And as is true with any muscle, over time exercise will increase flexibility. Because bilinguals may acquire two languages in the time in which monolinguals acquire one, they quickly become more flexible learners*. The speed and apparent ease with which young infants learn the basics of a language regularly astound parents and scientists alike*.

Increased Listening Skills 

baby-listening-skills

As children begin to tune their hearing to learn unfamiliar sounds and words in the new language, their listening skills develop. It is somewhat similar to a musician having a trained ear for the sounds of the notes over time.

Did you know that babies hear their mother’s voices before birth and as newborns, they already know the rhythm of their native language? Once born, babies can actually recognize differences in languages*.  Babies are particularly attuned to hearing phonemes, the sound elements or building blocks of language, and repeated studies show that babies are actually more attuned to perceiving phonemes than adults.

Higher Memory Retention

language-learning-for-kids

As children memorize new words, they are actually helping their brain to be better at memory work in the future. How is that? As you stimulate the brain with difficult, new challenges, you work it out; thus, giving the brain a boost in overall health, vitality, and increase in memory power.

Dr. Andrea Mechelli of University College London published her team’s research that found “grey matter” density in scans of the left-brain was greater in bilinguals than in monolinguals. The brain’s left side is responsible for processing information and controlling aspects of sensory perception, memory and speech. Dr. Mechelli found this increase was most significant in children who had learned a foreign language before the age of five.

Increased Marketability in the Future Workplace

globalized-world

study from a Los Angeles-based recruiter found that almost 9 out of 10 headhunters in Europe, Latin America, and Asia reported that bilingual skills is critical for success in today’s business setting. In this increasingly global world, bilingualism carries many benefits. Furthermore,

“66 percent of North American recruiters agreed that being bilingual will be increasingly important in the next 10 years.”

Better Problem Solvers

Language is like a puzzle. Letters and sounds fit together to make words, and then words fit together to make sentences. By fitting the pieces together in a new language, children become naturally more adept at problem-solving abilities. Visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website for more advantages of being bilingual.

People everywhere have discovered the Little Pim program to their delight. Celebrities who have utilized the program offered these words of praise for Little Pim:

  • Alyssa Milano – “Thank you so much for sending Milo The Little Pim language. . .”
  • Tori Spelling – “Thank you so much for  sending us Little Pim –  Spanish. The kids love it – and I am learning from it too!”
  • Kevin James – “We [love] little Pim. . .”
  • Bill Horn & Scout Masterson – “Thanks for the Panda. . .We’re actually fans of Little Pim. . .”

Raising Bilingual Kids

At Little Pim, we have developed an award-winning program that taps into the young child’s unique capability to absorb new languages at a rapid rate.  Using what children love most, lively adorable animals and other babies, we developed language learning videos that have been highly effective. Try us free today to start teaching your little ones a new language!

What’s Trending in Bilingualism

bilingualism baby

bilingualism baby

We’ve scoured the web to find breaking news and information in the world of Bilingualism. Check out our 5 favorite stories, below:

1. Taking bilingualism to the bank: In the Economist, bilingualism comes down to dollars and cents in, What is a Foreign Language Worth? The article looks at actual ROI (return on investment) for bilingual employees. While these numbers are lower than others comparisons we’ve seen, we found it interesting that you can expect being bilingual in German to increase your lifetime additional earnings by nearly three times that of Spanish. Will Goethe become more popular with the preschool set now?

2. Little Pim in the News: Our own Julia Pimsleur Levine, founder and CEO of Little Pim, is featured on Forbes this week in How to Speak Entrepreneur Like a Native. If you’ve ever wondered how Little Pim started, this is a great read. If you’re interested in hearing from Julia first hand about her entrepreneurial endeavors, her personal Forbes blog is here.

3. Kids bop to bilingual pop: It was only a matter of time before pop songs embraced the budding bilingual kids’ market. From the same producer who created the earwig “Friday” song by Rebecca Black, comes a Chinese/English song, “Get in My Car” sung by 10-yr-old Grace Liu. http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/5930503/10-year-old-grace-liu-wants-you-to-get-in-my-car-watch

4. “Hear and I forget, see and I remember”National Geographic explores why it’s easier to remember new lessons, including a second language, when you use visual and tactile lessons—like Little Pim’s videos and books—and not just audible ones.

5. Say what? According to a New Zealand study, babies can actually make distinctions between words spoken in foreign languages.

The New ABCs: Surprising Foreign Alphabets Kids Will Love Learning

foreign alphabet chalkboard

foreign alphabets chalkboardDo your kids love saying their ABCs?  Then they’ll be delighted to find out about completely new alphabets, such as Russian, Arabic, or Japanese.

Not sure where to start? We’ve created a quick overview of just a few options we have at Little Pim. Try them out with your kids for some tongue twisting, language learning fun!

 

RUSSIAN

 Pay attention to the following letter combinations that do not exist in the English language:

” “hl” as in “Hlieb” (bread)
” “zh” as in “Nozhe” (bread), “Zholtoy” (yellow)
” “ts” as in “Tsveta” (color)
” “hv” as in “Hvost” (tall)
” “zs” as in “Litzso” (face)

It’s important to pronounce your vowels correctly to be understood – you should open your mouth wide and purposely stretch out the sounds (always fun instructions for little learners!)

Now try this sentence out:

Hello, my name is Little Pim.
I am a panda.

Привет! Меня зовут
Крошка Пим. Я панда.

Privet! Menya zavut kroshka
Pim. Ya panda.

ARABIC

The consonants in the following table are distinctly Arabic in the way they sound.

Kh — The “ch” in “Bach” or “loch”; has a raspy sound
H — H is pronounced from the back of the throat
The phrase SabaaH al-Khayr (good morning)  has both the “Kh” and “H”
R — A rolled “r” sound, similar to the Spanish R, as in the word marHaban (hello)
Gh — A “gargling” kind of sound between “g” and “r,” produced deep in the throat, as in the word Ghadaa (lunch)

Now put them together:

Hello, my name is Little Pim.
I am a panda.

  • .الصغير “بيم” إسمي مرحباً،
  • .باندا أنا

Marhaban, Ismi Pim Assagheer. Ana
Panda

JAPANESE

 Here are some basic pronunciation guides for Japanese:

  • A pronounced “AH”
  • I pronounced “EE”
  • E pronounced “EH”
  • O pronounced “OH”
  • Double vowels – note elongation of the vowel

Now see if you can use the rules in the following sentence:

Hello, my name is Little Pim.
I am a panda.

  • こんにちは、
  • 私の名前は小さいピム。
  • 私はパンダ。
  • Konichiwa, watashi no namae wa chiisai pim,
  • Watashi wa panda

 

Ready for more unique alphabets? Keep the fun going with Litte Pim’s Mandarin Chinese and Hebrew.

4 Surprising Infographics about Bilingual Education

7000 LANGS-01Did you know the most commonly spoken language on earth is Mandarin? Or that students who studied a foreign language for at least 4 years scored an average of 140 points higher on the math SAT than those who didn’t? We found these fascinating facts and much more as we explored language learning and bilingualism Infographics around the web. We’ve collected a few of our favorites here. Click through to see the full graphic.

1. Second Language Acquisition By The Numbers

(credit, Huffington Post)

The facts and nothing but the language facts are the focus of this Infographic, including the most popular language to study in the United States (Spanish) and where scores improved on the SAT when students studied a second language (actually, they improved in all three sections!):

bilingual huffington post infographic

2. 50 Awesome Facts About Languages

(credit, UIC London)

If you’re looking for biggest, best, and most unusual language facts—from the number of world languages (7,000) to the easiest foreign language for English speakers to learn (Frisian, only spoken in parts of the Netherlands) this Infographic is for you:

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.01.24 PM

3. The Benefits of Being Bilingual

(credit, BlueData International Institute)

What are the benefits of bilingualism? This Infographic links speaking a second language to improved concentration, boosted brain function, and increased creativity just for starters. Find out more:

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.04.00 PM

4. Languages of the World

Finally, check out this Infographic from our friends at Pimsleur (which was created by Little Pim founder Julia Pimsleur Levine’s father, Dr. Paul Pimsleur) exploring the perceptions and realities of language learning in the United States.

Pimsleur Infographic 112013-01

3 Things You Didn’t Know About the Bilingual Brain

bilingual brain surprise

bilingual brain surpriseThe internet is abuzz with news of a new study published in the journal Neurology that indicates that bilingualism can delay the effects of dementia (including Alzheimer’s). While other researchers have certainly drawn the same conclusion in the past, this study has the largest sample size and is certainly worth reading about!

But if you’re more interested in how learning a second language will impact your child’s brain NOW, here are a few more fun facts about the bilingual brain and language development from some of our favorite articles around the web:

  1. Children who learn multiple languages may make grammatical errors at first, but it won’t last! Just as monolingual children sometimes make errors as they begin to learn the structure of a language (“I go’ed” vs. “I went”), so do bilingual or multilingual children. It’s all a part of the language learning process.
  2. Socio-economic status has a greater effect on vocabulary than bilingualism. Some parents fear that adding a second language to the mix will stunt their child’s development in their first language, but more and more evidence indicates that multilingualism is an insignificant indicator of how a child’s vocabulary will develop. Read more at the New York Times.
  3. On the other hand, speaking a second language helps delay dementia regardless of education level. This new study demonstrates that even illiterate participants reaped the benefits of bilingualism, experiencing the same 5-year delay in symptoms as more formally educated participants.

4 Eye-opening Articles on Foreign Language Learning

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Every week we find ourselves geeking out over all the amazing new information about foreign language learning that we find on the internet. If you’re like us (and we think you might be since… well… here you are), you might sometimes find this wealth of information a little overwhelming.

Not to worry, friends! Little Pim is here to help! Each week, we’ll cull the internet for our favorite language (and panda) related articles. This week, for your reading pleasure, four articles about the way language works inside the human brain:

  1. Your Mind on Language: How Bilingualism Boosts Your Brain. The title of this HuffPo blog post might say it all, but it’s a great read for anyone who wants to read about the science of language without having to wade through all the science-ese. Dan Roitman defines common scientific vocabulary associated with the study of language and also breaks down the way the brain processes language.
  2. Does Your Language Shape How You Think? You might have seen this piece in the New York Times Magazine! As it turns out, our first language may affect the way we formulate thoughts.
  3. EastEnders Effect: Watching TV Can Change Your Accent. A curious phenomenon, indeed! The cockney accent (‘ello guvna!) that features prominently in the UK soap opera EastEnders has been slowly sculpting and altering the way the Scottish accent sounds.
  4. Bilingualism Is Yoga for the Brain. A quick recap on the importance of starting early!

Until next time, read on!