School for Immersion

Music to Cheat a Little

Frozen DVD and CDSo the theory goes that children need 30% of their “waking hours” to be in a second language in order to achieve fluency. Check out Adam Beck’s cool pie chart and descriptions about how his family sneaks in about 30% of a second language.

Yet for many folks, that percentage can be tough to achieve. How do you get in your second language when you also have homework, soccer, piano, playdates chores and everything else to do in a day? I know that we struggle with the 30% rule often!  Do you just give up on a second language  if you can only get 15%? What about 5%?

No.Good Morning Mandarin

I love this quote from Multilingual Living around this topic, “Sometimes less exposure can have more of an impact than we know!  Just allow yourself to adjust your expectations to match your family’s language journey and see where you can add more language exposure along the way.  The gift of language is priceless, no matter how much language exposure your child receives!”

That said, I have a little secret that I do every night that I think has a tremendous impact. Music.

Given that a third of our kids’ lives are spent sleeping, why not make use of the time! Studies have shown that some language acquisition can take place during the Zzzzzzs!

Every night after story-time and cuddling, I put on a playlist of Mandarin music for the kiddos. They love it! Lucas my son gets a different set of music than the younger girls. Lucas tends to like more Chinese pop and the girls love anything Disney. The music lasts for about an hour and half and they fall asleep to it. The music does not keep them awake but instead, I hope, they have sweet dreams of Elsa as they sleep!

Typically, I will cheat some more and play it again before I head up to bed just to get in another hour or so of language time. Try it! Can’t hurt right?


Filed Under: Chinese, Homeschooling, Music to Learn a Second Language, School for Immersion, Spanish, Uncategorized

Struggling to find time to teach your kids a foreign language? Try something radical.

lisaLisa Sarafidis – Guest Blogger

Struggling to find time to teach your kids a foreign language? Try something radical.

In my family, we believe that foreign language instruction and music training are extremely important, as artistic and practical pursuits, as well as for brain development. My children take violin and piano lessons, we use Rosetta stone for French, my husband speaks Greek to them, and we are planning on starting Spanish soon. My kids also watch a lot of TV, lest you think we are some sort of uber parents…it all balances out.

 

homeschooling teaching a second language The difficulty with languages and music is that they are not disciplines you can easily fake- you get out what you put in. My 8 year old practices violin an hour a day, piano 15 minutes a day, and French 20 minutes a day. My 7 year old practices violin 30 minutes a day, piano 10 minutes a day and (inconsistently) French 20 minutes a day. The challenge, of course, is fitting this in either before or after school, in addition to their extracurricular interests (dance for my daughter and soccer for my son), homework, chores, time together as a family, hanging out with friends, and the ever-elusive “unstructured free play”. Exhausting- and we already set limits on how many activities our kids can do (they are actually less busy than a lot of their friends).

Not Enough Time!

When we added up all of the time requirements on our young kids (and on me, enforcing these schedules), we realized that mathematically, it just didn’t work. There truly aren’t enough hours in the day for the things we think are important. So, we are considering something many people would consider radical: homeschooling.

 

Create Your Own Schedule through Homeschooling

Our goal is not to make UN translators or professional musicians out of our children, but to instill in them the disciplines ofhomeschooling second language hard work, determination and mastery, qualities often hard to develop in a traditional school environment, where much of the focus is on acquiring superficial knowledge, with the primary goal of succeeding on standardized tests.

Having time for music and languages is only a part of our rationale for considering homeschooling. Taking my children’s individual learning styles into account, as well as our wish for them to discover early on what they are passionate about, what they are good at, and what gives them fulfillment, educating them at home, as well as with the help of mentors we find along the way, is an extremely intriguing option.

Without the requirements of a traditional school day, and all of the externalities that go along with it (getting to and from school, the never-ending after-school snack, and homework) here is a sample schedule of what my rising 4th grader’s day could look like next year :

8:00am-9:45am music practice

9:45am-10:00am mini-recess break (yoga, go for a quick run, look at the birds out the window, whatever)

10am-11am  Math

11:00am-11:15am mini-break

11:15am-12:30pm Language Arts (reading, writing, grammar, spelling)

12:30pm-1:30pm Lunch and play break (my daughter can make her own lunch and even have time to go for a swim at the YMCA across the street)

1:30pm-2:15pm Foreign language instruction

2:30pm-3:30pm SPECIALS (rotating through Art, History, Geography and Science, with one free day)

homeschooling with SpanishFrom what I hear, this is a really packed schedule (apparently, kids only spend about 3 and a half hours learning on any given day at traditional school, so I may be aiming way too high here). But built into this sample schedule is time for a weekly field trip to a museum, musical, play, different town, you name it. Wherever my kids interests take us. And then we can build on those interests in following weeks, or veer in a different direction entirely.

Given that so many programs have been reduced or eliminated in traditional schools to make room for testing and teaching to the test, such as recess, PE, music, arts, even class birthday celebrations, I love the idea of adding fun and creativity back into my kids schedules. And after 3:30, they are free to play, help around the house (because I’m sure they can’t wait to do more of that), and further pursue the activities they are interested in.

Think we’re crazy? Curious about how it will go? I’ll be updating you all on a weekly basis about how we are incorporating foreign language into our homeschooling adventure on The Language Playground, so make sure to come back and check us out! 

Filed Under: Chinese, Classes, Cultural Experiences, Homeschooling, Research and Trends, School for Immersion

Video: Bilingual Preschool

Send your child to an immersion school!

Immersion schools, which can start as early as preschool, are a wonderful way to give your child a head start on learning a second (or third) language. Children learn all the same subject matter taught in standard schools, but in a second language!

WHERE TO FIND A SCHOOL IN YOUR AREA: 

  • yelp.com: This website is a great place to start your search and get reviews from parents like you! Just type in what you are looking for (i.e. Mandarin preschool) in the search bar and see what kind of schools are available. 
  • craigslist.com: This website is a wonderful site to search for home school programs in your area. We were surprised at just how many smaller programs were not advertised on yelp or found on the web, but were on craigslist! Many of these programs are less expensive as well since they are run out of people’s homes. 
  • Yahoo Groups: Join some yahoo groups with a focus in your language of choice and post your question about recommended schools there. There are tons of happy parents just waiting to speak about their immersion school choices. 
  • Recommended Websites: Check out our list of recommended websites for links to websites that will help you find a school in your area. 

MICHELLE’S STORY: 

While living in Japan, we realized how easy it is for children to pick up a foreign language if they are immersed in it. While Lucas was only three when we left Japan, we knew that he loved speaking Japanese in school. To continue building upon this interest, we enrolled him in Chinese and Spanish preschools when we returned to the US. Since language acquisition is easiest at an early age, our children have jumped right into fully-immersive half-day Spanish and Chinese preschools. The entire class is conducted in that language and the children love it! At two, Lousha joined Lucas in Chinese school. At three, she started Spanish. After a year, we decided to focus solely on Chinese and so we no longer attend the Spanish schools. 

Why not send my children to a “regular preschool”?

We felt that they would learn the English basics (alphabet, numbers, etc.) from us and their daily environment, and we wanted to give them a head start in acquiring foreign language skills. Children are little sponges and we know that now is the time for them to learn a new language. My kids still get all of the same elements that they would get at a “regular preschool” – social interaction, understanding of the rules, and snacktime :), only now they are soaking in another language at the same time! 

They are not in school very much — just two days a week – but their level of understanding grows tremendously with each hour! It is just enough for them to enjoy it and yet not be overwhelmed.   

VIDEO: 

Check out the following video of Lousha at her bilingual Montessori School, Growing Tree in Saratoga, CA. We adore this school, their methods, their materials and their dedicated teachers. 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfLG3g0YqUs

 


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Filed Under: Classes, Flashcard Fun, Games to Learn a Second Language, Posts with Videos, School for Immersion