Code or Let Language Learning Programs Implode?

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“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.

early-learningBefore 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.


Works Cited: 

Musical Spanish Immersion Class in NYC

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little-pim-kidsWe’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!

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Outstanding Information on Teaching Your Child Another Language

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back-to-school-language-learningTeaching your child a second, or even third language, is exciting, stimulating, and fun, not to mention an experience that will bring you and your child closer. Moreover, the best part is you will be doing a great service for your child. Approximately, two-thirds of the world is bilingual and in the United States alone, the number of children who speak a language other than English has increased to 21 percent. The benefits of learning another language are well documented; a few of the benefits include:

  • – Increased intelligence
  • – More fluent verbal skills
  • – Greater memory ability
  • – Problem-solving savvy
  • – Improved cognitive skills
  • – Better reading/writing skills
  • – Larger worldview

As a parent, you may have a lot of questions about how, where, or when to begin the journey of introducing your child to a new language. Let’s look at a few of the questions parents have.

When is the best time to teach my child?

Research shows that babies and toddlers are prime age for teaching a second language. As astonishing as it sounds, the brain of the baby is wired for learning a language. The sounds of the language are as a pattern to the brain, which acts in ways similar to a computer – coding and decoding the symbols of sound and storing it into the memory. Before the age of six years old is ideal.

How can I possibly teach my child another language when I don’t know the language?

This is probably the biggest concern and hold back for a lot of parents, but with immersion-style videos, books, and entertaining material, your baby can begin learning the language whether you know it or not. Actually, you will learn right along with your child. Engaging videos are a must to attract the attention of the small child. Our Entertainment Immersion Method® engages a child’s natural love of play and learning through repetition. Colorful books to touch, upbeat music, and flashcards all work to reinforce the language.

early-learningWhere can I find a program that will effectively teach my child another language?

At Little Pim, we have developed a highly-visual, language-learning program that children fall in love with. One reason our program is effective is children can relate to their “teacher,” which happens to be the delightful, animated Little Pim panda bear. The books and videos host the adorable panda so children come to know and love the little bear. They will look forward to learning. One child’s parent is quoted as saying her son “loves the animations of Little Pim and often asks to watch them over and over again. He loves to yell the words he knows…”

Teaching your child a second language has never been more fun. Choose from our 12 language sets to watch a free preview of Little Pim today!

Differences Between Brazilian and European Portuguese

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Portuguese is one of the most beautiful, romantic, Latin languages. As the sixth most spoken mother tongue in the world, Portuguese is an excellent choice for your toddler or preschooler.
Speaking Portuguese, even if you have no ties to the language and culture, is a marketable skill that will serve your child well in the future.

As with English, the country where the language is learned and spoken makes a lot of difference in words, pronunciation, and grammar. The Portuguese spoken in Brazil is so different from European Portuguese that it is often referred to as Brasileiro, according to the website Lexiophiles.

There are many reasons for these differences and here are two of the most obvious ones.

Cultural Influence

In Brazilian Portuguese American Indian tribal languages donated many of the words for local foods, plants, and animals, as well as other objects. These words are unknown to speakers of European Portuguese.

Italian, French, and African languages such as Yoruba, have also found their way into Brasileiro. These add a significant contribution to the vocabulary of Brazilian Portuguese that does not exist in European Portuguese.

Intonation and Cadence

Brasileiro is more musical or lyrical than European Portuguese. Vowels are more open than those in European Portuguese and to English speakers, European Portuguese can sound somewhat muffled.  Brasileiro is syllable-timed like Spanish with equal stress on all syllables. And European Portuguese is stress-timed, with stressed and unstressed syllables in words, which is more familiar to native English speakers.

Little Pim’s language courses for young children make learning Portuguese an exciting, playful, and educational experience for your child. She will learn 180 Portuguese words and phrases to start her on a lifelong path of bilingualism. Browse our website for more information on Portuguese language learning for your child.

A Simple Guide: Which language is best for my child to learn?

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Choice is an incredible gift. For parents, however, it is also paralyzing. When our choice regards our children’s education, we catalog every possible option, outcome, success, and worst-case result, don’t we? Little Pim applauds such parents who want desperately to choose what’s best for their child. We recognize how this deliberation is firmly rooted in love, so we not only gift you with choices, we also equip you with helpful tools to choose.

Seeing as multicultural awareness and the growing necessity for well-rounded children has never been as strong, we’re thankful for your interest in at least one of the 12 language programs we offer. You’ve likely had the thought: Which language is best for my child to learn? The following guide should help you confidently navigate your choice, as well as this important note.

Children aged 0-6 have brains best for learning up to three languages at once! If you can’t choose one, why not consider two or more? Your child will soon thank you for this choice between multiple languages learned. What a unique potential to influence our world!

Little Pim’s Twelve Language Programs:

Spanish

As the 2nd most common language in the United states, Spanish is one of the simplest languages for English-speaking children to learn and one of the most useful languages in the world for travel. There are over 414 million Spanish-speaking people in the world. Spanish lends well to learning other Latin-based languages in the future such as French and Italian. These languages all have Indo-European roots and share some characteristics that are present in Spanish but not English. Knowing Spanish can open up many job opportunities for your little ones, especially in the United States in healthcare or education industry.

Check out LeapFrog’s blog to learn about 10 benefits of teaching your child Spanish.

Frenchlittle-pim-for-kids

Did you know that French is the most widely studied language in the world? As the official language of over 29 countries, French is highly utilized in the world of higher learning, literature, culinary arts, and fashion. It is also recognized as an official language of the United Nations. There are also many words in the English language that have French origins, such as “rendezvous” or “cinema.”

French is also one of the foreign languages our founder, Julia Pimsleur, chose for her two boys, Emmett and Adrian. Adrian speaks fluent French and Emmett speaks some Spanish, French and Hebrew.

Mandarin Chinese

It’s the most widely spoken language in the world! An increasing demand for Mandarin-speaking employees is just one reason to start your child early! Spoken by over 1 billion people worldwide, Mandarin is an official language of the United Nations. Mandarin Chinese is tonal, which means that pitch is used to distinguish its lexical or grammatical meanings. The earlier a child begins to learn this language, the easier it is for them to pick up on the differences in tone and begin employing them correctly.

The latest trends we’ve seen at Little Pim are new parents choosing to teach their child Mandarin alongside romance languages like Spanish and/or French.

Russian

russian-3-pak-digital-downloadAs the official language of the former Soviet Union, Russian is still spoken in 15 European and Asian countries. Russian is spoken by almost 280 million people worldwide, and is an official language of the United Nations. It is the fifth most frequently spoken language in the world. International political developments and growing business opportunities with multinational companies have led to increased demand and opportunities for Russian speakers.

The Russian alphabet is easy to learn and only has 33 letters. It is a Cyrillic script, which is a writing system used for alphabets across Eastern Europe, as well as North and Central Asia. The Russian alphabet is wonderfully phonetic, making it even easier than English as the letters have a consistent pronunciation.

Italian

Italian remains one of the top 5 languages studied in US colleges. Over 7,500 businesses correspond with Italy hosting over 1,000 US firms. If you’re child is a musician or music lover, he or she will love learning Italian. Did you know that Italian is the language with the highest number of words for naming food, restaurants, dishes, and produce? For more reasons to learn Italian, check out The Italian Academy’s article on the “Top 10 Reasons to Learn Italian.”

German

teaching-german-for-kidsAs the 10th most spoken language in the world, this language has English roots. Phew! There are thousands of words that are closely related known as “cognates.” Why not try this language long-associated with academia and science. Knowing German also increases business opportunities as Germany is the #1 export nation in the world.

Japanese

Almost every nation in the world includes some aspect of Japanese culture and commerce. Tourists flock to Japan annually, supping from its offerings and influence. Japanese is the 9th most spoken language in the world, with 128 million speakers. Japan has the 2nd largest economy in the world, which leads to increased demand for Japanese speaking experts. Learning Japanese may also inspire your child to learn the other Asian languages we offer such as Korean or Mandarin Chinese.

Arabic

As an official language of the United Nations, Arabic is the most widely spoken Semitic language. Arabic is spoken by roughly 300 million people. Many English words have Arabic roots; words like ‘candy,’ and ‘spinach.’ Yum! According to AmericanCounsels.org, “In the last 15 years, U.S. government agencies have expressed a much greater need for Arabic speakers to address the complex political, military, and economic questions surrounding U.S. engagement in the Middle East and North Africa.”

hebrew for young childrenHebrew

Over 10 million people speak Hebrew daily. Worldwide, millions more study Hebrew for both religious and cultural reasons. If you or your little ones plan to travel to Israel, learning Hebrew will definitely come in handy as it’s the national language. Israel is also one of one fastest-growing high-tech economies in the world. Learning Hebrew can be easy and fun, especially with Little Pim by your side.

Portugueseportuguese-for-kids

Welcome to the language of the Southern Hemisphere! Because this language is rarely studied, speaking it is an incredibly marketable skill. Did you know that Portuguese is the 6th most spoken language in the world, with 215 million native speakers?

By learning Portuguese, your kids will have a much easier time picking up any of the other romance languages like Spanish, French, or Italian since they all have Latin roots.

Korean

Korean is currently growing in popularity due to South Korea’s powerful economy, geopolitical importance, art and culture. There are over 80 million Korean speakers in the world and the Korean culture is like no other. Many people choose to study Korean because they fell in love with the culture. Korea is famous for K-pop music and Korean dramas. For more reasons, check out our blog post on why your child should learn Korean.

English

Little Pim’s most popular language program outside the United States in our English/ESL program. After Chinese and Spanish, English is the world’s most spoken language with over 335 million speakers worldwide.

Learning a second language can be fun, easy, and effective with Little Pim. Language learning should always be a positive experience and cannot be rushed. Remember to praise your little ones for speaking in the second language. Teaching your child a foreign language can be a great way to give your child a head start and prepare him or her for the global economy.

For more extensive explanations, you can read further here. And of course, please do not hesitate to comment below contact us with any questions.

Why Bilingualism is Crucial to Your Child’s Future

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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.

Need Summer Travel Tips with Kids? Little Pim to the Rescue!

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Tell a parent there’s an unanticipated three-hour car ride or plane trip in the near future, and in five minutes flat you’ll find a lined bag busting with tissue, snacks, coloring utensils, and the child’s comfort item of choice. Relief, however, will be not be found. Why? It takes this bag just to get to the grocery store!

If there’s one thing capable of infusing fear, hesitancy, and anxiety into an upcoming summer adventure, it’s traveling with kids. What we hope is an exciting and restful experience, can often become a melting pot of opposites. Fortunately, Little Pim has come to the rescue!

Not only has Little Pim created learning tools proven to plant seeds of exploration, joy, and an expanded worldview into the youngest of children, the tools offered are as transferable to travel as to an afternoon at home. If you’re looking for tips for Summer travel with kids, the following products will do the trick.

Colorful flashcards

Use these flashcards to familiarize your kids with sights and sounds discovered along your way. Play a guessing game or have your children quiz each other. To play, point to a flashcard and your child has to say the word in the language he or she is learning. If your child is having trouble remembering the word, you can say the word language-learning-for-kidsand he or she can point out the card. Before starting, read through the flashcards, pointing to each as your child repeats after you so it sinks into his or her memory.

Reward your child when they get 5 correct with a small treat like a gummy bear for example. Little Pim flashcards are really easy to travel with and make long trips with kids fun & educational for the whole family!

italian-for-kidsEngaging videos

Thank you, technology! Rest assured your kids are learning while you’re resting, enjoying while you’re planning, and engaging while you’re focusing on what’s next. Each of our videos has a unique child friendly theme, such as eating, playtime and feelings. Our Entertainment Immersion Method® is based on how children naturally acquire language.

The videos are segmented into 5-minute episodes to accommodate a young child’s attention span. The more your child watches, the more they learn. Simple sentences are broken down and are reinforced through repetition by native speakers.

 

Vocabulary scripts

Whether traveling to a foreign country where shopping and touring elicits perfect opportunities to put new languages into practice, or just a state away to visit family, these scripts and companion guides will help your family enjoy not only the vacation, but the book-ending miles. Memorize a conversation and pretend you are in the nation where the language is native. Discuss fun facts about the place.

Little Pim Plushlanguages-for-kids

Whether this panda is involved in a learning activity, or your child just needs some comforting to fend off travel-sickness and tears, this plush friend delights to come along.

For more fun tips, products, answers and ideas, please contact us. We look forward to hearing how Little Pim helped replace your stress with rest this Summer!