Fun With Languages© Responds to English as a Second Language (ESL) Needs in the Classroom and at Home

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The simplest way to foster understanding is through the use of a shared language, and children who learn two or more languages as they grow adapt to the use of those languages in a natural—not forced—manner. Most bilingual families are not bilingual out of choice, but out of necessity. Most English as a Second Language (ESL) programs forcibly immerse children in a classroom setting where English is the only language spoken.

In the increasingly small world of a global community, communication across language barriers is crucial for fostering understanding and acceptance of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. The simplest way to foster understanding is through the use of a shared language, and children who learn two or more languages as they grow adapt to the use of those languages in a natural—not forced—manner. Most bilingual families are not bilingual out of choice, but out of necessity. Most English as a Second Language (ESL) programs forcibly immerse children in a classroom setting where English is the only language spoken.

Typically, children enter an ESL program when their families move into a predominantly English-speaking community. The ESL programs tend to focus on immersion, a method similar to throwing children into the deep end of the language pool before learning if they have the rudimentary skills to stay afloat. By the time a teacher realizes a child is drowning in the new language instead of swimming like an Olympic athlete, the damage to the child is done.

In addition to facing a new home, a new school and the arduous task of making new friends, the child automatically starts this new life without the comfort of hearing his primary language and of knowing he is understood. At home, the parents of these ESL students may speak little or no English and are unable to reinforce the English lessons at home, since the students did not receive instructions in their native languages to help them explain their lessons.

The best way to introduce children to a second language is to make the second language a natural part of their growth and development. According to Professor Laura-Ann Petitto, Dartmouth College Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Department of Education, children who are exposed to two languages from early childhood develop as if they have two “monolinguals”, or single language centers, in the brain where each language is stored separately. The children do not experience confusion between the two languages, since they are stored separately, and the addition of a second language does not adversely affect the speed of learning either language.

Petitto’s study indicates early exposure to a second language works well, and the earlier the exposure the better, since the brain will adapt more easily. Late exposure to a second language in a restricted classroom setting penalizes the student and prevents complete fluency in the language. Instead, ESL programs should consider exposing children to both languages at the same time for the best bilingual fluency results.

Fun with Languages©, is the company behind the “Fun with™” series of bilingual videos, interactive workbooks and musical CD’s. The “Fun with™” videos and interactive workbooks are designed to help ease the transition and respond to those needs.

Owner Lizann Hinds, Rick Hinds and mother-in-law Ynes Cruz developed the bilingual videos and workbooks after realizing that they could not find any educational and entertainment products to fulfill the bilingual need. Many parents, like the Hinds’s, desire to raise their children in a bilingual family in order to prepare them for an increasingly bilingual society. So with his mother-in-law, an elementary school teacher and ESL chairperson at her Florida school, Mr. Hinds created the videos.

Written By Melanie C. Duncan for Fun with Languages©.

Currently, the videos are available in English/Spanish, English/French, English/Portuguese and English/Italian.    

Contact Rick Hinds at 305-824-1231 or email rick@funwithlanguages.com and visit http://www.funwithlanguages.com .

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