Open Your World

By Kayleigh Pearce

Hi, I’m Kayleigh, a French teacher from Oxfordshire and Mum to Francesca (almost 3) and Teddy (almost 1). The first time I understood that it was possible to learn another language I was about ten years old and my auntie bought me a “French for beginners” book, beautifully illustrated with lots of fun little scenarios of how and where you might be able to use a language, the café, the shop, the beach, it looked like so much fun. 

Growing up in a small town in the north east of England, and never having heard of France much less been there, I started out on a journey that would accompany me for the rest of my life. 

Far from the drudgery of learning obscure verb endings for what seems like no reason, in a dark classroom on a rainy day, languages can bring joy, friendship, excitement, travel and job opportunities. It can set you apart from the crowd and give you chances that you may not otherwise have, especially if you are not from a more privileged background. 

Now in order to do anything we need support, that is why this blog is entitled open yourworld! Learning a language, or even a little bit of a language is something that we can do at any age and with very few resources but we can do it together!

That said, research shows that if you intend to teach your child two languages fluently, perhaps your own language and the language of where you live, starting as young as possible is recommended. In cases where the child has two parents or carers, often they choose to communicate in one language each to avoid confusion. Even though kids are inclined to respond in the language of where they live, the grounding they receive will set them up for the future in both languages.

Here’s some tips to get you started:

1. Discover together! Preschoolers love discovering the world around them whether it’s adventuring outdoors or in a book nook. Incorporate a few words into their favourite activities as you discover them, give them the word in their home language and in the new language too!

2. Repetition, repetition, repetition! Little ones love to do things again and again! Frequent use words such as hello, please and thank you are a great way to get started.

3. Make it fun! Songs, books (try your local library for lots of language books, some are also bilingual with English so you can learn together) and even changing the Netflix language on their favourite cartoon can help them to absorb some of the language in a fun way. They’ll soon be picking out a word they know or singing a nursery rhyme in another language along with their usual repertoire! Currently on a loop here is Frère Jacques along with our usual Twinkle Twinkle!

4. Make it real. Try labelling common items at home that your child uses. My daughter is almost 3 and we practice a word at a time, just every so often to keep things engaging and fun. Her current favourite word is “le bébé” as it is similar to the English but you have to say it in a slightly different way which she loves!

5. Babies and toddlers learn so much every day and a little language can support this too. Try counting out blocks in your home language and then another language so your little one begins to make the connections. There are many language learning clubs, preschool apps and even toys now appearing with language options that can be useful too!

Now to get started on making my own classroom a little corner of France and a window to the world of adventure language learning can bring! 

For tips and ideas of bringing languages to your preschooler, preteen or self, head over to Instagram @wantagefrench or follow our adventures on @pearcesgrow

Merci d’avoir lu mon blog!

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