Guest Post by Catherine Bruzzone, founder of b small publishing and a former secondary school teacher of French and Italian. Here she writes about the joys of immersive language learning.
Ophelia loves repeating all the Italian words she knows: ciao ciao, buongiorno, buona notte, carote. “Any more, mamma?”, she asks her mum. So they go round the room – porta, finestra, tavolo, sedia, sorella (pointing out her baby sister chewing on a plastic spade). Ophelia is just three and her mother has been speaking to her in Italian since she was born. Although she understands everything, she’s only now starting to try out some words herself including inspiring combinations of English and Italian like moona (moon and luna) and pomato (pomodoro and tomato).
This is the immersion method of learning, usually used by bilingual parents. But just as you don’t need to be a palaeontologist to share a book about dinosaurs or a historian to enjoy reading together about ancient Romans, you don’t have to be a native speaker or bilingual to introduce your child to a foreign language. In fact, even if you know no foreign language yourself at all, you can share the fun and learn along too.
For holidays abroad, you could learn to say hello, ask how much an ice-cream costs, say thank you and how much you enjoyed it. Simple phrases which make a huge difference to the fun and enjoyment of the trip. But even if you never set foot abroad, the excitement of learning new words for familiar things, cracking a code, stretching the brain can’t be underestimated, at any age. And the best time to learn is as young as possible when the brain is nice and flexible and children are enthusiastic about learning lots of new things.
In the same way as we publish books for young children to enjoy nature or history, b small publish a range of books and resources to help make languages easy to learn for all ages. Colourful question and answer cards, language games, picture stories and picture dictionaries full of simple words and phrases, they are a great way to enjoy learning English, French or Spanish independently or in a group.
To celebrate National Non-fiction November, we are offering a discount to all readers throughout this month. Enter the code ‘NNFN’ on our website for 25% off! And you can download this free poster to encourage you on your exciting language journey, Rights of the Language Learner from www.bsmall.co.uk.
The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the FCBG.