Recently on Fox 5 NY, the International Academy of New York discussed the benefits of raising bilingual children, sharing that their students spend around 40% of their week functioning in either Mandarin or Spanish. Research shows that some of the benefits of raising bilingual children include:
Children are much more focused and less distracted
They are more able to switch tasks spontaneously
They have more flexible and nimble brains
By middle school, bilingual kids typically outperform their peers in both math and verbal standardized tests
The interview also explains that human contact is important when teaching children a new language. Singing, reading, and talking with your children in the new language and taking children to cultural events also help encourage language learning. At Little Pim, we believe introducing your child to a new language at an early age can give your child many advantages. The best time to learn a language is under the age of 6. Don’t miss the window of opportunity when it’s easy for them to learn. Invest in their future…A little language goes a long way.
Don’t forget to incorporate language learning into your holiday while cooking, spending time with family, and during playtime! Teach your kids how to say “thank you” in different languages and other seasonal vocabulary, like the Spanish word for “leaf” = “la hoja.”
“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.
Father’s Day, Sunday June 18th, is a time to celebrate family, love, and happiness. All of the warm sentiments conjured on this day will mirror the warm weather forecasted in New York, where Little Pim is based, creating perfect conditions to have a wonderful day. What could make the day any better? Foreign language. While a shared appreciation for a father figure unites a family, exposure to a foreign language can unite an immigrant or multicultural family with its roots and can unite a curious family around a common love for learning. Language learning can be seamlessly incorporated into your plans for the day, whether you are attending a barbecue, heading to the beach, or staying in the comforts of your own home. It’s not only easy but fun, so read on for some helpful tips.
As you are slicing the fruit for a platter or tossing the salad to kick off the barbecue, you can make use of the vibrant array of colors on display to teach your child another language. The Little Pim flash card sets include the words for colors for each language offered. Accordingly, even if you aren’t proficient in the language you would like to teach, the cards can provide you with the necessary vocabulary to turn this fairly boring task into a fun language learning opportunity.
Moreover, as the adults surround the grill, and conversations about work inevitably ensue, your child might grow bored. To keep them happy and engaged, you can simply hand over your iPad. While this parenting move often leads to gaming, which isn’t necessarily intellectually challenging or fruitful for your child, you can use Little Pim livestream, to turn this moment into another language learning opportunity.
As the eating winds down and everyone is still gathered around the table or fire pit, you can introduce a fun language learning game to liven up the mood. In the game, you can choose a flashcard from the deck at random. You can’t let your child see it. Similar to the wildly popular game “Heads Up,” your child then holds the card to their forehead. Make sure to have the English translation side face the rest of the table. The other family members and friends have to give verbal hints or act out gestures based on which your child can guess the word in English. Once your child has successfully guessed the word, in order to earn a bonus point, he or she must translate the word into the foreign language of your choice.
As you pack your bag for the beach, make an assembly line with you and your child. As you pick up an item, pass it to your child and have him or her try to name the word in the foreign language. Many of the words that would likely be useful during this exercise are part of the flashcard sets, but below is a short list with translations into French and Spanish for your convenience.
Maillot de bain
Serviette de plage
Lunettes de soleil
Gafas de sol
Cartes à jouer
Ballon de plage
Pelota de playa
Silla de playa
The highly anticipated ocean entry is another chance for you to involve some language learning into Father’s Day fun. While some kids are hesitant to enter the cold water, you can make it less intimidating by turning it into a game. You can call out what is written on one side of the flashcard and have them translate into or from English. Each correct answer can be a step backward towards “safety,” and each incorrect answer can be a step closer to the waves, or vice versa if your child is excited to go into the water.
The car ride home is perfect chance to pop in a French Bop or Spanish Bop CD. More information and statistics encouraging listening to music sung in a foreign language can be found in a recent blog posting.
Day at Home
If Father’s Day will be low-key at home for you and your family, language learning might be the perfect stimulus to brighten the day. For example, while your child is writing that cute letter to Dad that you will save for years to come, you can teach them how to say some of the words in his or her letter in other languages.
While below is a short list of words and phrases your child is likely to use translated into French and Spanish, Little Pim’s content covers many more languages.
I love you
Happy Father’s Day from Little Pim to you and your family! We hope language learning can make an amazing day even better.
We’re excited to launch our partnership with The Pineapple Explorers Club (based in NYC) for their Musical Spanish Immersion Class using our Entertainment Immersion Method® and language learning materials.
If you’re located near New York City, see below for more details or visit their website linked above:
Classes begin MONDAY JUNE 26th at 10 AM in Marcus Garvey Park (upper west corner below playground) & WEDNESDAY JUNE 28th at 10 AM in Central Park (Enter at 79th and walk South, group will meet on the left just before the playground).
Cost: $15 a child (cash or Venmo) or find them on KidPass!
Looking for some fun holiday crafts for kids during Christmas Break? Christmas Around the World is always a fun theme to incorporate into your holidays. Kids love learning about other cultures and countries and how they celebrate the holidays this time of year. Not only are crafts from around the world fun, they’re educational as well. What more can you ask for?
Before you dig out the paper, glue, and scissors, do a little research. Decide with your children what countries you want to learn about and make crafts. There are all kinds of wonderful resources on the internet for you to use in your research. Once you decide on which countries you’d like to learn more about, you can get started on the crafts. Try some of these fun ideas.
Flags of the World Ornaments
Use real ornaments or make paper ornaments with the countries flags on them. For this activity, you can also head on over to your local craft store such as Michaels Arts & Crafts to buy supplies to paint your own flag ornaments. They will have plain ornaments that you can paint on. For a image database of the world flags and countries, visit this website from the CIA.
Traditional Holiday Crafts
During your research, find traditional decor or a tradition the country enjoys during the holidays and recreate it with crafts. For example, The Nutcracker is a traditional ballet done in Russia. Design and create your own nutcracker using things from around the house like milk jugs or cartons, paper rolls, Legos, or wood pieces. For ideas, check out this great post from Multicultural Kids on DIY Christmas Ornaments Inspired by World Cultures.
Holiday Nature Crafts
Many countries have “treasures” that come from nature that you can recreate at home. For example, Poinsettias come from Mexico. You can make paper or tissue paper Poinsettias after learning about Mexico. Christmas trees originally came from Germany. In the link above, there is a beautiful Mexican Felt Poinsettia you can make with the kids. Do you have any Christmas crafts that you do with your kids that you can share with the Little Pim community? There are tons of fun Christmas tree crafts to make! Share your traditions in the comments below.
Holiday Dress Crafts
Many countries have traditional clothing they wear during the holidays. Make paper dolls or clothes pin dolls with the traditional clothing worn from the country you researched.
Make crafts of the countries you researched out of paper and hang on a tree or decorate your home. Origami is a great idea for Japan, or make paper chains from Sweden. Let your imagination run wild!
Whatever crafts you decide to use for Christmas Around the World, you know your kids are having fun learning and creating great crafts! For more fun activities, print out our Winter Coloring Pages or fun Hanukkah Crafts for Kids.
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!
Flash forward a couple weeks from today: It’s a sticky summer day, and to cool down and spend some quality time with your kiddos, you decide to go home, sprawl out on the couch, and watch the Olympic games. Your child becomes disengaged, or maybe your kid loves the games and is glued to the television. Either way, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to teach your children Portuguese and make them feel a deeper connection to Rio than the screen in your living room. We, here at Little Pim, recognize this language learning opportunity, and luckily, we offer lessons and flash cards in Portuguese that will make your son or daughter speak as well as Gabby Douglas flips in the time of a Usain Bolt 100 meter dash.
The most obvious vocabulary to introduce to your child during the Olympic games would be basic sports vocabulary, like the words for: ball, referee, pool, court, and field. To try to cultivate the strongest correlation between the words you are teaching and an image, it is probably smart to introduce the vocab as its corresponding image appears on the television.
Additionally, since the words you will be teaching them are about being active, you can make the language learning active. Play a game of catch while watching the 2016 games. When you have the ball, say the English word, and have your child say the Portuguese translation upon catching the ball. They can learn more about how to discuss playtime in Portuguese with the Little Pim “Playtime” lesson, which is available for online purchase. This online accessibility means they can sit on the couch and learn Portuguese on any device with the Olympics on in the background.
The Olympics has a record number of countries competing this year, so now more than ever the Olympics is a melting pot of cultures. This presents you with the ability to expose your child to a plethora of different countries. With that, you can teach them how to say each country’s name, main languages, and prominent religions in Portuguese. You can pull out a map and point at the country in question as you go along! If your family has roots in a certain country, this is a great time to introduce a bit of that country’s language too; Little Pim lessons could probably help you do so!
The number system is critical to any language, so it is a good place to start when learning Portuguese. As the shot clock winds down or the race is about to begin, have your son or daughter count down in Portuguese. They will be ready by New Years to count down to 12 AM in Portuguese!
Start by counting numbers 1-10 in Portuguese, then go backwards to start the countdown:
10 – dez
5 – cinco
9 – nove
4 – quatro
8 – oito
3 – três
7 – sete
2 – dois
6 – seis
1 – um
As each athlete’s statistics are plastered across your television screen, you can teach your little one the words for goal, assist, point, etc. This can be a particularly great exercise with little boys and girls who have already developed a passion for sports
(it is probably genetic) and enjoy memorizing statistics from player cards and a teams’ websites.
Personalize the Activity
If your son or daughter is especially fond of one sport that will be performed during the summer games, make sure to focus on the vocabulary relating to that sport. This will make the language learning of greater value in their eyes, and thereby more fun for them.
Hoop = aro
Cleats = chuteiras
Tennis net = rede de tênis
Rebound = ricochete
Corner kick = escanteio
Volley = voleio
Foul line = linha de falta
Header = cabeçada
Advantage = vantagem
Get Involved As a Parent
If you are fluent in Portuguese or have never heard a word of it, speaking the language with your kid makes it a group activity as opposed to a chore. Additionally, if your whole family wants to extend your exposure to Brazilian culture beyond language learning, please refer to a post coming out soon about fun activities infused with Brazilian culture that you can do right at home.
For the words to stick, a child needs to become familiar with them by hearing them a number of times. On your way to a mall or weekend get-away, you can review the Portuguese vocab in a fun trivia-like format. The Little Pim flash card set could serve this purpose really well!
Teach Love and Kindness
Sports have the power to transcend countries’ borders, racial divides, and social differences. That power is what makes the Olympics such a beautiful thing to watch, especially today when these issues run rampant in our society. Teaching your child the English words for unity, equality, fairness, and sportsmanship, for example, is a powerful action in it of itself. Imagine the power of teaching them these words in yet another language, like Portuguese.
By teaching your child another language at a young age, you accomplish many things. You make them smarter, you differentiate them from other children their age, and you ultimately make them more valuable to our society and a potential employer. Above all of those things, you make them sensitive to and connected to another country, culture, and way of life. In learning a new language, they are learning to respect differences instead of hate them, just as sportsmanship teaches. Language learning is powerful. Sports are powerful. Rio is the perfect opportunity to combine sports with language learning, an action that could have an amazingly powerful impact on your child.
Everyone is going Pokémon crazy with the release of Nintendo’s new app, Pokémon Go. As a parent of little ones, it’s important to learn about the pros and cons of this app before letting your kids dive in on the fun. We’ve been playing for almost a week – for research purposes only, we promise 😉 – and have seen the big phenomenon hit the streets of Manhattan and across the country. You’ve probably heard the news regarding the potential dangers of playing the game or perhaps you’ve downloaded the app yourself and can’t get enough. We’ve compiled some great tips about how to make Pokémon Go a fun, safe, and educational game to play with your little ones.
Protect Your iTunes or Google Play Password from Your Kids
Pokémon Go is free to download, but there are in-app purchases to buy PokéCoins for different items in the “Shop.” These purchases require you to login to your iTunes or Google Play account, so be sure your kids are not able to do so by disabling in-app purchases or keeping your password safe to avoid getting a huge bill at the end of the month. You and your family can still have all the fun for free as long as you play wisely to collect more items from PokéStops.
This app requires cellular data
Like many mobile apps, playing Pokémon Go will require use of your cell phone’s data, so hopefully you have an unlimited data plan or else you’ll probably start receiving texts from your carrier warning you that you’ve used a majority of your data this month. If you’re hitting the max data allowed per month, you may need to have your data turned off until the cycle restarts. Also, this app will do a number on your battery life. Make sure you’re fully charged before you head out the door or carry a charger with you.
Make it Fun AND Educational
Playing the app can be rather simple once you understand what to do. You’re playing as the Pokémon trainer who collects Pokémon (cute, little “pocket monsters” with unique traits and skills) outside. The app connects to your GPS to show you your location and the whereabouts of Pokémon in the wild, nearby PokéStops, and gyms where you can virtually battle other players. At the end of the day, you and your kids could be walking miles on this virtual scavenger hunt while discovering local landmarks and small businesses that you’d normally never visit. This provides a great opportunity for kids to get outside and explore, with your supervision of course.
When you get to a PokéStop and it’s a historical landmark, spend time with your little ones to read about the landmark and start discussions about the history. Playing Pokémon Go during summer vacation can be a fun way to teach your kids about your local surroundings and to provide incentives to take trips to the library or museum for more typical summer learning. You can even use family trips to a local gym or PokéStop as an incentive for finishing a desired task or summer reading.
Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings
According the the AppStore and Google Play store, the recommended age to play is 9+ years due to a warning for “Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence.” Our biggest concern is having little kids roaming the streets while looking down at their device (“distracted walking”) or being “lured” into a dangerous area, which is why we recommend that a parent or guardian is always present to supervise your children, especially your young ones when playing this app. Recent reports mentioned that players are using the “lures” (a feature used to lure more Pokémon to a location) to plan a robbery or to lure children. Always look up when walking and hold onto your kids when crossing a street or intersection. We recommend playing this game at your local park or an area where there is little traffic.
Another part of the game involves eggs that hatch into new Pokémon. When you collect an egg, you can incubate it by walking a certain distance (2 km, 5km, 10km) to make it hatch. We love that this feature gets you and your whole family outdoors walking instead of indoors on the couch. Different types of locations have different varieties of Pokémon, so you will have plenty of opportunities to explore fun spots with your kids, for example, when you visit a body of water such as a lake or river, you will see more water Pokémon.
It’s a Great Way to Make new Friends
Parents playing the app with their little ones will quickly notice they aren’t the only ones. When walking to a PokéStop or local museum or library that put out a lure to gather people for an event, you will most likely make a connection with another family. Since school is out, now’s the perfect time to get out there and meet other parents and children who have similar interests. It’s also a great opportunity to connect with your local area’s small business owners and support them by buying the family ice cream or a delicious pizza pie!
Due to the game’s diverse players, you’re probably going to meet a bunch of families who are also raising bilingual children. This gives your kids a great opportunity to practice speaking in their second language with other children their age.
Language Learning with Pokémon Go
Here at Little Pim, we’re all about making language learning fun, easy, and effective for young children. We thought of ways to tie in language learning into the game to keep their brains active all summer long.
You can have your kids count the number of steps to catch the Pokémon in the foreign language they are learning. If the Pokémon is further away, help them out with the bigger numbers and eventually they will learn all the numbers in the new language.
This app also forces you to learn the metric system as the distance to walk to hatch your eggs is in kilometers you can convert them to miles. A recent article by MentalFloss pointed out that according to Google Trends, searches for “how far is 2 km” and “how far is 5 km” spiked after July 6.
Create your own flashcard set with a Pokémon Go theme. Choose vocabulary words that you encounter while playing the game, i.e. street, library, tree, ball, catch, throw, as well as all the related animal names you can think of. If you’re child is learning Japanese with Little Pim, teach them the 1st Generation Japanese and English Names:
Here in New York City, we have an extraordinary mix of different cultures present within walking distance. For example, you can take a family trip over to Koreatown with your little language learns to get a glimpse of the Korean culture and enjoy the delicious cuisine at an authentic restaurant. Perhaps you’ll run into a nice family of native Korean speakers that are also playing the game to spark up a conversation so your child can practice speaking in Korean.
Head over to Little Italy to catch some Pokémon and practice your Italian by pronouncing the various food and restaurant names. Enjoy some delicious Italian cuisine when in the area.
Learn more about NYC’s ethnic neighborhoods from BusinessInsider to begin exploring this summer whether you’re a local or just visiting.
Have Fun and Be Safe
Outdoor play and social interactions for kids is great, but can also present risks. As a parent of little ones, we recommend you supervise your child’s cellphone use and play this fun game by their side. Make it a family activity and take the opportunity to teach your kids about “stranger danger” and the risks of “distracted walking.” We hope you enjoyed reading this guide and wish you the best of luck in “catching them all!”
If you have any other tips for parents playing Pokémon Go with their kids, please comment below. Don’t forget that you can also take Little Pim with you during summer vacation with our digital downloads available in 12 languages. Your kids will be speaking a new language in no time with our unique approach. Learn more on our website or contact us during business hours. Enjoy the rest of your summer and stay safe!
With Cinco de Mayo around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start teaching your child Spanish! Cinco de Mayo commemorates the unlikely 1862 victory of the Mexican army over the French army in the Battle of Puebla. Celebrations around Mexico and the United States highlight Mexican culture, cuisine, and music.
We’ve compiled a few Spanish vocabulary words that follow the theme of the festivities, as well as 4 fun ways to teach your child Spanish!
La batalla – battle
La revolucion – revolution
La bandera – flag
El heroe – hero
La independencia – independence
La victoria – victory
Teaching your child Spanish has benefits that go beyond the obvious advantage of a bilingual child; the opportunity to strengthen your bond with your child as you work together learning a new language is invaluable. As you and your child begin the journey of learning Spanish, remember to have fun. According to research, learning actually takes place best when the child is having fun. Here are 4 fun ways to teach children Spanish:
Music is an excellent way to aid in memory. John Hopkins University had this to report, “Music can also create a highly focused learning state in which vocabulary and reading material is absorbed at a great rate. When information is put to rhythm and rhyme these musical elements will provide a hook for recall.”
Little Pim’s Spanish Bop will have your whole family singing while learning Spanish at the same time! And don’t worry if you don’t know Spanish–the album comes with a 16-page lyrics book that highlights vocabulary from our Spanish video series and includes an English translation of all the songs. Incorporating Spanish music in your lessons is definitely helpful for gaining your little one’s attention and makes language learning fun!
Research reveals that the mind is able to process visuals 60,000 times faster in the brain than textual information. Simply put, your child will learn more quickly and effectively when visuals are a big part of the learning model. By utilizing pictures, flashcards, videos, and board books, the information will solidify in his/her mind.
Everyone loves a fun game. Furthermore, for the tactile learner (which is the child who learns through touching and doing), games are a tremendous way to connect positive experiences with the act of learning the language. Depending on the age of the child, you will have to modify the games. Here are a few suggestions for an older child.
Once the child knows a few basic words (learned from the Little Pim videos or flashcards), set flashcards on the floor in a path leading to a surprise, treat, or just a big hug. The object of the game is the child says either the word in Spanish or tells you the translation (what it means in English). As they advance along the path, they pick up the cards and if they get the right answer, they move on to the next card until they win by reaching the end.
A variation of the game above is to use the flashcards, but for each one that the child gets right, he or she can put a stuffed animal in the “zoo” (a sectioned off area you designate to be a zoo) to be with all its friends. When she gets all the animals in the zoo, then the game is over.
Play a Spanish song that your child knows pretty well, then periodically pause the CD for your child to fill in the missing word.
To add some child fitness exercises to the mix, you could make learning new words into an action game. For each word your little one is able to say, they get to do a jumping jack, hop like a bunny, or some other fun action your child enjoys!
Learning about the Spanish culture, experimenting with Mexican foods, and even taking a trip to Mexico are also wonderful ways to immerse your child in the experience of the Mexican culture. As the child identifies with and learns about the culture, he or she will have a more well-rounded educational experience.
Learning the Spanish language is an asset for children. Making it enjoyable goes a long way in making it stick in the child’s mind. At Little Pim, we produced the #1 language learning program for kids ages 0-6 and products such as flashcard sets and board books to make language learning fun for little ones.
To best incorporate language, culture, and an expanded worldview into a child’s day, it’s wise to use what is already set in place: a weekly schedule! Repeat these 5 multicultural activities for kids on a weekly basis, and your son or daughter will begin thinking outside-the-ordinary. Have fun!
Start by choosing a different culture every week. Use these weekday suggestions as parameters to build upon. Then, as a pattern develops, watch your child eagerly anticipate the ways new cultures come alive in your home.
Spell new language words using alphabet cereals, carrots, or noodles. Make pancakes into Chinese letters, for example. Count healthy food pieces using the culture’s language, or make a cultural dish, together, as you discuss other common foods of the region. While you’re in the kitchen, review your food vocabulary with the kids with the help of Little Pim videos or flashcards. You can also learn and teach the kids about the variety of eating utensils from other cultures.
If you have family members who have a different cultural background than you do, invite them over to teach you and your kids about their cuisine and you can even prepare a meal together. Your family can pick up on new words and ethnic ingredients you’ve never tried which can be fun and tasty!
Tuesdays are about learning the traditions of a culture. Find pictures which display these traditions and common hobbies most popular there. Review parenting traditions and how life events are celebrated differently, for example, have you heard of the “baby grab” tradition celebrated in Korea? The parents give their baby a basket of items associated with a career, i.e. a book for scholars, ball for athletes, food for chefs, toy stethoscope for doctors, etc. Tradition says that the item the baby reaches for first will have some bearing on his or her future.
How do children from these cultures spend their day? Is family important? What is same or different from who we are?
What do children, moms, and dads wear in China (for example)? Does this culture dress special for occasions or holidays? Find articles of clothing or hit the thrift shop to role play with your child as though you live in the area of study. Put on a play or skit to show what you’ve learned. Alternatively, you can find pictures of cultural attire to share with the kids.
Using story books, articles, and Little Pim, engage in activities suitable to your child’s comprehension. Have young children color a picture of a significant holiday, symbol, or food item from the culture you’re studying. Start discussions with older children, for example, you might discuss the culture’s schooling system or the country’s flag. Ask, “What do you think?”
Visit your local library to find books about the culture of the week and take turns reading. You can find children’s books that introduce kids to different cultures around the world, focused on cuisine, holidays, and traditions.
Find a movie, short, or some kind of visual representation of the events, foods, and cultural differences discussed this week. What are some famous children’s characters from each culture? Learn a native song or cultural dance important to the people.
Go out and explore!
Discover local events within your community to expose your young children to different cultures in your very own neighborhood. For example, if you’re living in the NYC-area, here are some fun upcoming events you can attend with your kids:
For further ways to develop your child’s awareness of cultures and new languages, start teaching them a second language with Little Pim. If you have any suggestions or upcoming multicultural events in your area, please share them in the comments below. We look forward to growing with you and your child!