The benefits of learning a second language at an early age are well documented, but what many parents don’t realise is that any child can become fully bilingual even if the rest of the family aren’t!
How can parents help their child embark on the wonderful journey of bilingualism when the second language isn’t spoken at home? Some parents are under the false impression that a child needs to live, or be educated in, a bilingual environment to become fully proficient in that language and to attain an authentic accent.
The desire for children to learn a second language early on in life is growing, as parents become increasingly aware of the numerous benefits. Countless studies have concluded that learning a second language increases critical thinking and creativity. Multi-lingual children do better in both verbal and numerical tests at school than those who speak only English.
All well and good for children born into bilingual –or even trilingual – households, but what about the rest of us, who struggle with the simplest exchanges of conversation in another language?
Well actually, there are lots of things you can do to help your child along.
As young children are less inhibited and able to learn through play, the earlier you expose your child to another language, the better. After all you learnt your own native tongue at birth and even before! Recent research on brain scans of toddlers at King’s College London suggest before four years old is the “optimal window”. Songs and rhymes are an excellent place to start as children absorb vocabulary and grammatical structures, and they can also practise their accent. The Club Petit Pierrot CD is a great place to start – it features 36 original songs and rhymes.
Take them to a fun immersion class
Babies and young children have an insatiable appetite to learn and communicate. They don’t mind in which language they do this, as long as the exchange is full of meaning and fun! So choose a class where the emphasis is on communication. You’ll be amazed how quickly they pick things up!
At Club Petit Pierrot there is no translation whatsoever. Instead, children are fully immersed in the language and learn actively. They get involved in a wide variety of stimulating activities which are age appropriate, such as songs, dances, arts and crafts, cooking and there are fun language games and worksheets for the older children too.
Find a Native Teacher
Your child will copy an authentic accent and a native teacher will pass on all the intricacies of the language and its culture. All the Club Petit Pierrot teachers are enthusiastic native French teachers and are passionate about teaching French to young children.