Introducing a Second Language into Early Childhood Classrooms

At Momentum Early Learning we hold four very important Core Values: Safety, Education, Cleanliness, and Technology. To maintain our higher standard of child care, we focus on education and curriculum. Cultural diversity is a key component of YoungStar and our curriculum. We asked Ms. Angela at our Sussex Campus to explain different ways to incorporate a foreign language in a child’s life at a young age. We hope that Angela’s tips will help other teachers, and inspire parents to get creative with cultural diversity at home!

Meet Ms. Angela
My name is Ms. Angela, and I am currently a floater at Momentum’s Sussex Campus.  I have been teaching Early Childhood for almost 13 years, primarily working in toddler classrooms.  I have a BA in English, with a Spanish Minor, so language has always been fascinating to me.  I hope to show you a few ideas I have used in my own classroom or during Spanish Enrichment that encourage exposure to a second language.

Conflicting Information
When researching for this blog, I found conflicting theories.  Some say it is beneficial to introduce a second language at an early age, citing cognitive and academic benefits spanish5(http://www.cal.org/earlylang/benefits/marcos.html).  Other studies say it hinders primary language growth (http://www.meits.org/policy-papers/paper/learning-foreign-languages-in-primary-schools-is-younger-better).

I believe early childhood is a great time to introduce a second language, as it is an easy way to incorporate diversity into our center.  As a 5-Star Provider, different cultural experiences are part of our curriculum at Momentum.

 

Classroom Ideas

  • Music and Movement
    • Spice up your “Music and Movement” times with some fun language music.  Kids will get excited dancing to upbeat music and pick up on the words to the songs.  YouTube is filled with fun songs:  “Bate, Bate Chocolate”, “The Hello Song”, “Hello to All the spanish6Children of the World”, etc.  Also, use nap time as a time to showcase another language.  “Asian Dreamland” is one of my favorite naptime albums.
    • Twister is an easy way to work on colors and body parts.  Our kids will think it’s silly to be all twisted up and will focus on learning colors in another language as they are shouted out.
  • Dramatic Play Activities
    • Pack a suitcase full of clothing items and let the kids pick out what they want to wear.  Each child can identify articles of clothing using a Spanish word.  You can also play a game, asking the kids to find the “zapato” or a “chaqueta” and see who can correctly identify the correct clothing item.  Kids will giggle the whole time trying to find the correct clothing items.spanish8
    • Print out grocery store circulars in Spanish and have the kids pick out what they would like to purchase by circling items on the flyer.  Then, use play food and shopping bags to go to “the grocery store”.  Again, you can play a game where you have the children look for the “manzana” or “juevos” and see who can identify the food item first.
  • Matching Games
    • In our toddler rooms, we play a lot of matching games.  At all age levels, this can be incorporated, making it a simple match the object game or work up to a memory game.
    • You can make color, clothing, weather, food, etc. games.  During some small group times, you can work on matching “rojo” with “rojo” or “verde” with spanish7“verde”, etc.
    • For older classes, UNO is a fun game to work on numbers and colors.  Kids love playing card games.
  • During calendar times, introduce the month in English and another language.  You can also sing days of the week and weather songs in another language.
  • Cooking
    • A weekly cooking activity or food experience is part of Momentum’s lesson plan, which is a great opportunity to pick an ethnic dish to prepare with the class
    • Send home the recipe, so kids can talk about it at home or even make it at home with their parents.

Resources
The Library is a great place to find books in different languages and books that represent differentspanish cultures. I frequent the Oconomowoc and Watertown libraries. Both have large sections of board books, picture books, and audio books. Fortunately, we live in a society with easy internet access. If spanish3you get hung up on a word, a simple google search will help out.

At the end of the day, it can be a bit nerve-wracking to attempt a new language, particularly if you aren’t familiar with the language. I often feel self-conscious trying to speak Spanish in my Midwestern accent. Don’t worry; our kids won’t judge us! Use this as a time to try new things. Our kids will love these new experiences. Good luck!

Momentum Early Learning, the new standard in education and child care, provides unparalleled excellence of care for children through an open, friendly and nurturing culture. Momentum Early Learning provides care and teaching for children ages six weeks to twelve years old. Momentum Early Learning’s pledge of excellence is based on four core values: safety, education, cleanliness and technology. Families interested in learning more about Momentum Early Learning can call the Sussex Campus at 262.820.2595 or the Germantown Campus at 262.415.8047 or visit Momentum’s website at www.momentumearlylearning.com.