Building your vocabulary is a powerful way to help boost your foreign language fluency. But cramming vocabulary lists isn’t an effective way to learn. Sure, you might do okay on the quiz in your Spanish or Chinese class, but how much will you really remember two weeks later… or in two years? And since the point of learning a language is to be able to talk to real people, busy learners need a technique that is both efficient for learning and effective at retaining new vocabulary for the long term. That’s where Spaced Repetition comes in. It’s the powerful technique for helping students learn foreign language vocabulary quickly – and ensuring they won’t forget it.
Singing, playing, laughing. All things we as adults take for granted – especially when it comes to learning a foreign language! When prepping for an upcoming trip abroad, or, even harder, when studying up on cultural customs of a nation we need to visit for work, learning a foreign language can be a daunting task for us older folks.
Not so for our little ones however.
Instead of memorization, foreign language learning is an organic process that incorporates kids’ real lives — their toys, the animals they love, the letters and numbers that shape the world around them. Children are seemingly able to absorb a second language naturally without all the arduous study an adult might have to undertake.
A recent study published in the journal Cognition, which surveyed 669,498 native and non-native English speakers, found that this so-called “critical period” of language learning may last all the way up to the age of 17, but that for kids to really become fluent in a second language, they need to get started sometime before the age of ten or 12.
It’s not clear exactly why kids are such able learners when they’re young, but we do know that their neural plasticity, unselfconsciousness, and natural inclination to learn through play make a huge difference. Here are some of the ways that children’s language learning differs from adults—and how we might take a few cues from them!
More than half the world’s population speaks more than one language, and in our increasingly global society, becoming bilingual is one of the core ways U.S. children can stay competitive. As we discussed in our recent blog post, Americans have some catching up to do — according to Pew, many European students are on their third language by the time they reach high school! The good news is more and more U.S. states are demonstrating their commitment to bilingualism by participating in the Seal of Biliteracy, and it’s quickly emerging as the gold standard of bilingual certification. So, what exactly is the Seal of Biliteracy, and why does it matter?Continue reading “How the Seal of Biliteracy Gives Your Child an Advantage”
At PandaTree, we’re constantly enhancing our program to meet the needs of our students, and we’re excited to make a new feature available in our online language learning program – Shared Document Editing.
In response to parent requests to offer more opportunities for students to practice reading and writing, the Shared Document Editor allows students and tutors to write and edit together in real time during a lesson! From writing creative stories and poems to polishing their prose, students reap the benefits of practicing their written language skills with the expert support of their tutor. Students gain the confidence they need to grow their written language skills and apply their knowledge in the classroom and beyond.
Many adults—particularly in the U.S., where learning a second language isn’t nearly as common as it is in the rest of the world—are concerned that children will be disadvantaged or confused if they try to juggle two vocabularies. Others worry that kids won’t learn to speak as quickly as their peers. The good news is, most of these misconceptions are just that: misconceptions. Language learning is widely acknowledged to be highly beneficial for children’s cognitive and social development, with benefits that last a lifetime. Here, we’ve broken down some of the myths and facts to ease concerns that parents may have, and to get back to the fun part of learning!
As parents, our motivation for wanting our kids to learn a foreign language is justified. Research shows it improves brain functioning, leads to higher scores on standardized tests, builds empathy, deepens multi-cultural understanding and improves employment opportunities. Not to mention, if your family speaks another language, having your children learn the language can deepen family connections.
The challenge for parents is that in our enthusiasm for language learning, we might inadvertently tiger-mom (or dad) our way into making kids hate the process – and what a missed opportunity that would be!
As a four-year old, I remember my mom bundling my sister and me into our hand-me-down snowsuits and trudging over to our local library for a weekly French class for preschoolers. Once snowsuits were removed, we sat in a circle and played a “broken telephone” game, passing phrases around a circle to see if they could survive, ungarbled. We sang some French songs, including “Sur le Pont d’Avignon” and “Aloutte.” And when we learned colors, I remember being astounded when the teacher demonstrated that you could mix red and white paint to make pink – “rose”. How come we didn’t know about this in English? Such was my introduction to French, and I was hooked.
Fast forward to when French classes started in school in grade 4. I remember in one class learning the meaning of the word “pont” – – bridge – – and having a flashback to those classes in the library, with a newfound understanding of the song On the Bridge in Avignon/Sur le Pont d’Avingon. Had my early exposure to French helped? Absolutely. And I can still sing those songs, word-for-word, today!
We’re thrilled to be launching Series 2 of PandaTree for Preschoolers in Mandarin and Spanish! This new series of 10 one-on-one lessons picks up where Series 1 ends, and builds on the foreign language learning for toddlers. New topics and vocabulary are introduced, including shapes, body parts, clothing, action words, foods and more. The lessons also use spaced repetition to review and build on the learnings from Series 1.
Our friends at MomBlogSociety, one of the leading sites for news and products for parents of young children, recently started using PandaTree for Preschoolers online language lessons. See what they had to say about our innovative program developed specifically for children between the ages of 2 and 5.
With engaging, specially designed curriculum, the PandaTree for Preschoolers Program includes puppets, songs, interactive games and more, making children’s first exposure to foreign language learning joyful and fun! Read more about MomBlogSociety’s experience here. If you or someone you know is interested in getting a preschooler started in either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese, click here to learn more.