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Teaching Languages to Children

French

As an experienced after school counselor I can tell you that children love to learn new languages as it gives them something to show off to their friends and family. However, it can be difficult for adults to know how to teach a new language to children in a way that is both fun and educational.

That's where Bonjour! Let’s Learn French comes in!

Teaching French to Children with Autism

One of the things I learned from working with children with special needs, specifically autism, is that they can pick up new languages fast and that they enjoy learning new words and about the world. I really wish I had had this book when I was working with my autism after school group as the boys would have greatly enjoyed Bonjour! Let’s Learn French! I would strongly recommend this book for children with special needs as the book does not make the language too complicated and the audio download would help a child with autism to learn how to say the words correctly. The pictures in the book would keep the child's attention as they are colorful and happy.

The Best Part

The best part of this book is that it has audio that goes with it. The audio part is available online for download on the Polyglotkidz website. The audio allows the child to hear the words pronounced correctly which in turn allows the child to know the correct pronunciation from the beginning.

The Gift of a Language

You want the best for the child(ren) in your life. Learning a second language will introduce your child to a new world of exciting possibilities.

Many people think that “the whole world speaks English.”

According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), 75 percent of the world neither speaks nor understands English. Many of those who have or who are learning English have only a rudimentary knowledge of English, and many prefer to speak their own language. Of those studying English, only 8 percent are truly proficient.

Here are the benefits of knowing a foreign language.

We can meet more people. We gain access to the millions of people around the world who speak the language we are learning. We can form friendships. You can’t make a friend through an interpreter! We can form a network of personal connections around the globe.

We have more job opportunities. The candidate who presents a resumé indicating that he or she knows another language will stand out from the crowd. All things being equal, the candidate with the language proficiency will be chosen. Languages are one of the top 8 skills required of all occupations.

We gain mental benefits. Learners of foreign language develop skills which carry over to many aspects of life. They acquire better listening skills; better cognitive (thinking) skills; better vocabulary and verbal skills; better mastery of their own language. Students of another language can develop greater tolerance for diversity and appreciation for another culture as well as our own.

We have life-long benefits. We can appreciate and enjoy the treasures that another culture has to offer at any age. Research shows that bilinguals can stave off the damages of Alzheimers’ for up to five years.

What advantages do children have as language learners?

  • Time: We can all learn another language, and we should! Children have more years to master the complexities of a language and to become truly proficient,
  • Ease of learning: FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary School) programs encourage learning in a natural way. Children enjoy the activities, games, and songs in class. There is a lot of repetition, so children can get an innate sense of what “sounds right.”
  • Pronunciation: children can acquire native-like pronunciation. They have the ability to hear and perfectly repeat the unique sounds of another language. After puberty (age 12), this ability is lost for most of us.

In my school district, all children start Mandarin in kindergarten. While I struggled with the Chinese characters and tones, the children learn them easily. This applies to boys as well as girls. According to their teacher, “Children absorb languages like sponges.”

What can you do to give your child the advantages of learning another language at an early age?

If you live in a district like mine, you’re lucky. Only 25 percent of schools private and public offer any form of a foreign language program. If your district doesn’t offer a FLES program, ask your local Board of Education to implement one. Go with like-minded parents: there’s strength in numbers.

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