Whenever I am asked why a person should learn a language; my answer is that learning different languages is like going to the library and being able to have a whole other section to choose from and to get different stories and perspectives of the world. During early childhood is the critical stage to start developing native languages as well as foreign languages. In this stage children’s brains have a better capability to soak in a new language. Children’s nerve cells in their brains, are active enough to create new connections within the brain which is the reason why their language part of the brain can in fact absorb new languages faster than adult brains.
My passion for languages started at a young age when my parents spoke to me in both Spanish and English at home. Understandably so, not every household is able to speak and teach their child two or more languages. It makes my role in your children’s lives so much more important to me during the school week. In my classes not, every child wants or are able to verbally repeat the word back to me yet the fact that they are able to listen is just a little bit of language development for their brains to remember the meaning and how a word sound. Children have the ability to associate certain languages with particular situations and people. At home children will start associating a parent that speaks the second language with that language. Even in school I notice that the children walking by when they pass me in the hall will more likely say “hola” to me rather than other teachers or staff. They associate the Spanish language with me.
We as teachers and parents need to create and maintain safe environments for children but we should also create a safe auditory environment for them as well. Children repeat anything and everything we say and what they hear outside. If you repeat a word 7 times during the critical stage of language development then the brain is able to retain it. Within my Spanish classes I mainly focus on repetition and sounds; helping the children be able to pronounce and understand the words. That is always my goal with the 6-7 words a week that we do in Spanish class each week. Bringing in games and songs as well as props help make the topic and repetition more engaging for the children.
It is a privilege and honor to me to be able to teach and to start that development in children’s lives. It always makes me so proud when I hear the children start speaking Spanish during their play time or when they are just using their imagination without prompting. I also have fellow teachers tell me that some students start singing my “Adios” song to their works before putting them away. Just seeing the children retaining and using the Spanish that they learn in my classes used at other times during the child’s day show me that I am successfully helping that development, which makes me so happy.
“The development of language is part of the development of the personality, for words are the natural means of expressing thoughts and establishing understanding between people.” ~Maria Montessori
— Ms. Cecilia (Ms. Spanish Teacher)