Learning a new language from birth

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Natasha Baker

Owner at Kidslingo Cardiff & Newport
Follow Kidslingo Cardiff & Newport

Tel: 07495521031

What are the benefits of learning another language?

Languages open doors to the whole world whether it be working or studying abroad, meeting new people, travelling and exploring - maybe even settling in a different country? Languages give you the taste for adventure and the desire to see what the world has to offer. You will often have a different and better experience if you can speak some of the local language. Sometimes just a few words help you connect and communicate with someone that otherwise you would have not spoken to. It is easier to make new friends and communicate with people if you are confident in trying out another language.

When should you start learning a language ?

The best time to learn another language is from birth. When you are newborn you are wired to take in all the languages of the world as if you are a native. You then start to home in on the languages you are exposed to regularly. Your language learning abilities actually peak at around 8 months’ old ! As a child you pick up languages in a very different way than as an adult. Your brain is like a sponge and you are designed to soak up and repeat words and phrases. You naturally think and speak spontaneously without worrying about grammatical errors and perfect phrasing. Language learning is such a natural ability at a young age that it is a real confidence boost for kids. They quickly discover that they are more talented than their parents at picking up language, and are so proud of themselves.

Effects of language learning on your brain, mental health and well-being

Scientific research has even shown that language learning at a young age actually rewires the brain. They are able to communicate in their native tongue more effectively, they can pick up third and subsequent languages more easily, and have enhanced critical thinking and problem solving skills (in short, it makes them more intelligent!) This rewiring of the brain also has huge benefits to mental health and well-being. Understanding that others see and think differently trains your brain to think flexibly and, importantly, to think outwardly. Cognitive behavioural therapy which treats mental health issues such as anxiety and depression seeks to achieve just that, an ability to think outwardly. Children that speak multiple languages are also much more likely to be able to adapt to stressful events flexibly and cope more effectively. Of course rewiring the brain is just one factor that benefits mental health. Good communication and the ability to express yourself, the ability to make friends more easily and confidence all play a part in improving a child’s mental health. Giving your child the opportunity to learn language in a fun and creative way is giving them a gift that could lead to the most amazing adventures and opportunities !! It is an investment not just in learning a new skill but in their development and their future !! We use a combination of songs, music, games, activities and lots of fun themes to make language learning as interactive and engaging as possible for children.

How language learning for young children in schools is changing in Wales

The Welsh government recognises how beneficial language learning is for younger children. For years now the Welsh language has been promoted in settings across Wales from a young age. Now learning international languages is also being introduced at an earlier stage in the new Curriculum for Wales, due to be rolled out in 2022. Language learning and the new curriculum The new curriculum for Wales is due to be implemented in 2022. It is focussed on four main purposes: Ambitious Capable Learners - ready to learn throughout their lives. Healthy, Confident Individuals - ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society. Enterprising, Creative Contributors - ready to play a full part in life and work. Ethical, Informed Citizens - ready to be citizens of Wales and the world. Language learning impacts all four purposes, such as creating capable learners, boosting confidence and creativity and preparing students to become informed citizens of Wales and the world. The Welsh government has divided up the curriculum into six different Areas of Learning and Experience (or AoLEs) and sets out ‘what matters’ statements and a series of progression steps outlining the different stages of experience, knowledge and skills children need, to achieve learning outcomes for each AoLE. Learning international languages is now specifically introduced at an earlier stage under the Languages, Literacy and Communication AoLE. It says : “Settings and schools will need to plan for learners’ progression in both Welsh and English, and in international languages… Learners will develop an awareness of the languages around them from an early age and should experience increasing exposure to a variety of languages”. This will have a HUGE benefit for children across Wales, who as a result will be able to learn an international language much more easily and effectively, as well as getting all the cognitive, social and well-being effects of re-wiring your brain at an earlier stage too. On a larger scale still, if more children are able to pick up an international language, this will result in better career opportunities (employers often favour employees that speak multiple languages, especially as our society becomes more global), better integration (children are more aware of and adjusted to different cultures and perspectives from around the world) and a more affluent economy (opportunities for more local businesses to grow on an international scale). It is exciting to think how this new curriculum, and in particular its emphasis on international language learning at an earlier stage, can impact the future of Wales. Welsh-medium sessions Whilst international languages have their own unique advantages, connecting children with the rest of the world. The Welsh language has a very different but equally important benefit of connecting children in Wales to the cultural heritage of the country they live in. This is why we are very proud to promote the Welsh language as well as international languages by offering Welsh medium French and Spanish sessions to Welsh speaking children, and to Welsh medium nurseries and primary school settings across Wales. How settings are preparing to implement the new curriculum requirements Settings are already under a lot of pressure with Covid-19 and the ever-evolving regulations and safety measures surrounding the pandemic. The idea of preparing for and implementing a new curriculum is a daunting prospect for some, and for others put firmly on the back burner. Some settings are lucky enough to have teachers that are able to speak international languages within the setting, but the reality is that even then, they are not necessarily native or bilingual speakers, or trained in delivering quality MFL sessions. With all the additional stresses of delivering other curriculum sessions and already pressurised timetables and schedules, additional lesson planning and teaching international languages is not ideal of even viable for some settings. The other option is to bring in an external language provider with trained specialised language teachers that can provide PPA cover and curriculum sessions in international languages. Our classes fully support the Curriculum for Wales EYFS, KS1 and KS2 stages, but perhaps even more importantly, put an emphasis on making language learning fun for children and inspiring them to love languages. Another great option to enhance language learning at primary schools is a school club. Set up and run at no cost to the school, a French or Spanish after school, lunch or breakfast club is a great way to offer additional language learning opportunities to children alongside what they are learning in school hours. However settings choose to implement the new requirements, hopefully they will do so in such a way that inspires students to want to continue learning international languages into the next stage of their education and throughout their lives.

Here are some great Kidslingo Cardiff & Newport case studies

Are you interested to learn more about your children learning a new language?

If you want to introduce fun French and Spanish language learning to children at your setting, either through the medium of English or Welsh, get in touch. We would love to meet them all and show them how fun languages can be!

What classes are available?

Kidslingo runs fun and interactive language classes for children aged 0 to 11 years old across South Wales.

Ted Talk on how babies pick up language

Patricia Kuhl shares astonishing findings about how babies learn one language over another.

Government draft curriculum 2022

Introduction to Curriculum for Wales guidance and areas of learning and experience.
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