How to teach languages to toddlers and preschoolers


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We propose three game-changing strategies for toddler and preschool foreign language teachers/programs.

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How to teach languages to toddlers and preschoolers

  1. 1. How to Teach Languages to Toddlers and Preschoolers
  2. 2. <ul><li>Early language learning is in fashion − </li></ul><ul><li>the coolest new trend in education: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Hearing Bilingual: How Babies Sort Out Language” – New York Times </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Linguistic Genius of Babies” – TED </li></ul><ul><li>“ Bilingualism Is Good Exercise for Kids (and Adults) – NBC News, Education Nation </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Bilingual Advantage” – New York Times </li></ul><ul><li>“ 5 Facts About Bilingualism” – Huffington Post </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Benefits of Bilingualism, Now and Later” – Montgomery News </li></ul><ul><li>“ How to Help Your Child’s Brain Group Up Strong” – NPR </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>This is what is happening: </li></ul><ul><li>Parents are getting excited. </li></ul><ul><li>The excitement is very localized in the toddler and preschool years. </li></ul><ul><li>The field is wide open for grabs. </li></ul><ul><li>There’s an economic crisis out there and people are thinking globally. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>The result? </li></ul><ul><li>This creates a UNIQUE opportunity in a very lucrative market. </li></ul><ul><li>Many people with different backgrounds are opening tent in early language instruction. </li></ul><ul><li>There’s a lot of “funny” stuff going on that has nothing to do with sound early language education. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Ultimately, the programs that will survive the initial early language “bubble” will be those based on </li></ul><ul><li>sound pedagogical foundations. </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>BUT of those fine programs, the ones that will make it to the top will be those that </li></ul><ul><li>think differently  </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>So Let’s Think Differently </li></ul><ul><li>Let’s Re-imagine Zero to Five </li></ul><ul><li>Language Learning! </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>We Propose Three Game-Changing Strategies for Getting Us to the Top: </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-K Language Instruction Is an Industry So Let’s Get Ready to Compete! </li></ul><ul><li>Our Students Are Dual-Language Learners So Let’s Support Both Languages! </li></ul><ul><li>Parental and Community Engagement Is a Must So Let’s Create Bridges! </li></ul>
  9. 9. Pre-K Language Instruction Is an Industry So Let’s Get Ready to Compete!
  10. 10. <ul><li>No matter your situation, you should realize that if you teach languages to young children you are no longer sheltered from the competitive realities of the outside world. </li></ul><ul><li>Fail to realize this at your own risk! </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>So how do you become a magnet to your program? By: </li></ul><ul><li>Delivering great value: high-quality curriculum, engaging instruction. </li></ul><ul><li>Providing great customer service: constant communication with your current and prospective families. </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing, space, operations, etc. </li></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>We will focus on curriculum and instruction. </li></ul><ul><li>Teaching young children languages is not easy, and it requires a lot of planning. </li></ul><ul><li>Young children are still in the process of learning their 1st language and their stage of cognitive development makes them quite different than school-age students. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Toddlers are very focused on the here and now, and on concrete objects. </li></ul><ul><li>Preschoolers are developing imagination and symbolic representation that enables them to keep whole stories in mind, to remember new words for longer periods of time, or to talk about things that happened in different times or places. </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Toddlers are less likely to follow instructions or to be engaged in a group activity at a specific time. Forcing them to sit and learn a lesson will nearly guarantee language learning failure. For children aged three and under, it is best to have the parents present so they learn the lessons even if the child is wandering around the room. </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Preschoolers often have more experience with sitting in a group, or playing simple games with rules, or following directions to learn a song or dance. If you send home the recording of the new song they sang in class, they will be able to tell their parents “That’s the song I learned in school today!” and practice it happily at home. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Toddlers respond best to learning when their parent or loved one is beside them. This is why we see so many “mommy and me” classes for this age. </li></ul><ul><li>Preschoolers: By the age of four, many more children are able to enjoy activities in a group without the presence of their parents. </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Children learn best with thematic units – but the themes are more focused in the early years. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep a clear and narrow focus </li></ul><ul><li>Make the connections explicit </li></ul><ul><li>Repeat, repeat, repeat </li></ul>
  18. 18. <ul><li>Ana playing with a parent-child group </li></ul>
  19. 19. Our Students Are Dual-Language Learners So Let’s Support Both Languages!
  20. 20.
  21. 21. <ul><li>Think differently about this age group: </li></ul><ul><li>Let’s approach our students as “dual-language” learners, even though they may have less exposure to the new language than to their home language. </li></ul>
  22. 22. <ul><li>Build on familiarity, background knowledge – Soften the differences and highlight the commonalities. </li></ul><ul><li>Use the two languages as vehicles for learning and exploration. </li></ul><ul><li>Have plenty of “dual-language” resources available (you can create your own). </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>Click to see a Dual Language Story </li></ul>
  24. 24. <ul><li>How we use language matters </li></ul><ul><li>– A LOT! </li></ul><ul><li>In a study published in the journal Child Development in August, 2011, Prof. David Dickinson says, “We need to take very seriously the importance of teaching language in the preschool years (…) </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>It’s easy to look at tangible accomplishments such as counting or letter recognition but much harder to measure richness of vocabulary and language ability. Parents should take a careful look at what is happening in their kids’ preschool classrooms and see if the teacher is engaging the child in conversations that are rich in language.” </li></ul>
  26. 26. <ul><li>David K. Dickinson, Michelle V. Porche. Relation Between Language Experiences in Preschool Classrooms and Children’s Kindergarten and Fourth-Grade Language and Reading Abilities . Child Development , 2011; 82 (3): 870 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01576.x </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>Instead, many programs are focusing too narrowly on words and phrases, a “flashcard” approach (e.g. colors, numbers, body parts, etc). </li></ul><ul><li>When we teach them in this fashion, our toddlers and preschoolers do not get a chance to use their innate linguistic abilities. </li></ul>
  28. 28. <ul><li>Click to see Activity Using Colors in Context </li></ul><ul><li>For toddlers </li></ul>
  29. 29. Parental and Community Engagement Is a Must So Let’s Create Bridges!
  30. 30. <ul><li>One of the most challenging problems that the pre-k language educator faces is that young children learn languages best in one-on-one interaction with adults. </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>They do not learn much language by watching TV, videos, or using other digital or electronic media passively . </li></ul><ul><li>They do not have the maturity to interact with other children optimally for language learning. </li></ul><ul><li>They learn language in active and interactive manners. </li></ul><ul><li>They need lots of free play time to explore and make sense of things. </li></ul>
  32. 32. <ul><li>Moreover, several studies have shown that once-a-week interventions with preschool-aged children have very little impact on their learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Young brains need to practice new words and skills every day, several times a day. </li></ul>
  33. 33. <ul><li>This makes things quite complicated for the early language educator  </li></ul><ul><li>Short periods of time </li></ul><ul><li>Group instruction </li></ul><ul><li>Once a week sessions </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These are the common realities! </li></ul></ul></ul>
  34. 34. This is one of those moments when we need to think creatively. Ana: I have planned my system so that the parents are active participants in their children’s language education. That way, the learning continues at home, where there are more opportunities for one-on-one playful and spontaneous interactions between the parent and the child.
  35. 35. <ul><li>Karen: </li></ul>My approach is to coach the classroom teacher so that she or he can facilitate further language explorations by the children, for example, by incorporating props related to thematic units in the arts, blocks, science, and other classroom centers.
  36. 37. <ul><li>Karen: </li></ul>For this to work optimally, the language teacher would keep a close collaboration with the classroom teacher. Karen’s book is Many Languages: One Classroom
  37. 38. <ul><li>Both: </li></ul>Another idea would be to have volunteer bilingual parents or other members of the community (e.g. high school AP students) participate in the language class and/or in the regular class and support the new language by reading, singing, playing and conversing with the children.
  38. 39. We would like to finish our presentation with a game – Play is how children learn! So let’s play! [Click here to see image from Play and Learn French game]
  39. 40. Contact Ana Lomba: Website: E-mail: [email_address] Twitter: @ analomba Facebook: Ana Lomba Early Languages LinkedIn:
  40. 41. Contact Karen Nemeth: Website: E-mail: [email_address] Twitter: @ KarenNemethEdM Facebook: Karen Nemeth at Language Castle LLC LinkedIn: