Friday, August 24, 2007

Alternative Language Programs

It seams that more and more parents are realizing the importance of foreign language education at an early age. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to quality bilingual programs in their area. So what other alternatives are their for parents seeking out foreign language education for their children? Some parents hire aupairs or nannys that speak the language they would like their children to learn. Others look for classes that may meet once or twice a week.

One woman took the bull by the horns and started a morning program in her local public schools that would allow students to arrive half an hour earlier for instruction in a foreign language. Students were able to choose between two different languages. Not all students were required to attend the special program but any child, whose parents consented for them to attend, was welcome. It takes a lot of work to get something like that going but the reality is that there really isn't enough out there for parents who want their children to learn a second language.

Escuela Bilingüe Internacional, a PK-8 grade school started in 2006 and opened with 80 students. This was far more than expected since the first year only included the pre-primary grades and kindergarten. It just goes to show you there is an incredible demand for language instruction and there is a void of opportunities.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

When your child speaks a language you don't

It isn't easy raising bilingual or trilingual children. It takes a lot of work. But how much work does it take when one of the languages isn't even spoken by the primary caregivers? Such is frequently the case with children who spend a lot of time with a nanny that uses a different langauge with a child, or when a child attends a school in which the main language is different from the home language. It is difficult but not impossible. The trick is to continue to provide as many language opportunities as possible.

Saturday schools- Many communities offer Saturday school programs for native-speakers. Such programs are very helpful in providing not only language instruction but also in helping to form a language community. Children are able to see others use the language and develop bonds within that community.

Videos- Movies? Cartoons? Yes! This is one of the best ways for children to keep up their language skills. Videos allow children to hear the language spoken by native speakers and helps improve their auditory skills. Many parents are hesitant to use videos but children love them and can help them take a break in a busy day.

Plays and concerts- Seek out opportunities for your child to attend cultural events offered in the language. There are often shows, storytimes at libraries or other events that can help you child see the language in action in the community.

Babysitters- Whenever possible, hire a babysitter that speaks the language the child is learning.

The more opportunites a child has to hear and use the language, the greater their success will be in learning it.

Do you have other ideas? Tell us about them.