Learn more on the topic from the extensive summary of a nationwide study by Alan Train’s:
“Important facts on the topic language acquisition”
This study was performed and summarised by Alan Train and his staff in the House of English / Clever Kids in the region Hof-Hochfranken between 2009 and 2014. With courtesy of Alan Train we present here the summarized results.
The English play group as the first encounter with a foreign language at nursery
Theory and practice
- The desired effect of the early encounter with English
- Why are children able to learn languages so well? What’s going on in the brain?
- Which language (specific) cognitive abilities enable children to acquire language?
- How should the English play group be designed to achieve the desired effect?
Children are linguistic geniuses … but only for a short time!
The graph above shows us that children aged 0 to 5 years are susceptible to learn a new language at a rate never to be repeated in life.
Language is solely the most important tool of the people in the struggle for survival in this world. Nature has therefore ensured that the child is equipped with the great capabilities in the brain during the first 5 years of life to cope to a large extent with this task.
This not only works with one language. Acquiring two or more languages at the same time is possible and not uncommon in today’s world.
1. The desired effect of the early encounter with English
The desired effect is not to learn vocabulary and grammar rules. It consists rather in an attitude to language and to themselves, which means that our children:
- Deal fearless and confident with English
- Experience joy and fun in conjunction with the language learning experience
- Experience language as a way of exploring their environment and
- Altogether adopt a natural attitude towards language that is characterized by curiosity, openness and the willingness to develop further.
2. Why are children able to learn languages so well? What’s going on in the brain?
The structure of the brain and language acquisition
The four judgments or underlying investments in the brain of the child:
3.Which language (specific) cognitive abilities enable children to acquire language?
The English Play group – English for our 2 year old child?
At the age of 2 years your child is at the climax of the “sensitive period” for languages. Without a visible effort or focus on it your child “absorbs” language, German or another language which it comes face to face with. At the English play group we simulate this contact with the language and your child immediately begins to absorb English, playfully, without visible effort or focus on it.
At the age of 5 years old the curve of the sensitive period starts to fall and the ability for learning a language via play in this form is decreasing.
Only once in a lifetime every child has this sensitive period and it can be used.
How does it work?
At the age of 2 years the child’s brain is fully equipped with all the cognitive skills that it requires to acquire language, and is able to do so lightning-fast. The evolution willed it that way, because language is a matter of survival. Under the right set of conditions children can grow up with two, three or even four languages.
Encounter/contact with English
- sparks curiosity
- sparks the imitation and the play instinct
Children are innately curious about language. The nature wants it that way. We provide a safe and stimulating environment for the children at the English play group, that way they can absorb the English language via play.
The most important thing we want to achieve at the English play group is
- a fearless and self-confident approach in dealing with the English language. All words, all the rules of grammar, won’t benefit the child if it is afraid of communicating in English all its life. Overwhelming the child with new words, which they forget again, would be a waste of time. Words are the building blocks with that they can play with. And playing with the language opens up numerous opportunities of development for the children within their play with the vocabulary.
Our expectations: What can you expect from the English play group?
- Relatively soon your child will start to sing, ask (questions), to play with the language.
Show interest in the playing, do not quiz your child!
- In the short term, your child will use newly acquired phrases, questions and games more and more at home and with friends who are also attend the English play group. Support this!
- You will receive information from us, about what has been covered at the English play group.
If you have questions, contact the teacher/ lecturer!
- In the medium term, during the school year, your child will gain increasingly self-confidence.
Do not expect that your child will learn new vocabulary en masse.
- In the long term encourage your child to keep going year for year.
You send your child to us, we will ensure that it will be fun.
Help us to keep the door for languages far open for your child for a lifetime.
What are the benefits for our child in later life?
English is becoming increasingly important for work and private life.
English is a key skill in an increasing number of professions. The small investment today and the permanent encounter with language in the early years ensures that your child experiences a lifelong a different relationship to language than you have probably experienced yourself.
We are happy to work together with you, to keep the door for languages far open for your child a lifelong.
We look forward to you