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Grow their Brain Introduce them to Another Language

posted on June 16 2016


Advice from the frontline

You'd be hard pressed to meet someone as passionate about fun and languages as Lynn Ross. Lynn started Hola Muchachos a Spanish language school that is focused on music and play, kid's learn Spanish without even realising it and they love it. Very cute, Hola Muchachos translates to something like Hiya Guys and tells you a lot about this professional's relaxed and intimate approach. 

With more than 15 years in teaching and a post graduate degree in children and languages, she's very kindly shared a few tips on the benefits of bilingualism. 

Hola Muchachos Spanish language music and games class outside in Belfast Botanical Gardens

Lynn, why should we care if our kids speak more than one language?

Language makes the world go round! The ability to communicate in more than one breaks barriers in friendships, relationships and business interactions. You will be creating a smarter individual whose cognitive abilities will be highly developed, providing them with more job opportunities later in life. Everyone deserves to enjoy other cultures and learning its language is the best way to do it!

What are the benefits to introducing a baby to a new language?

More and more studies are showing that the earlier you introduce a new language to your child, the easier it will be for them to pick up its unique sounds. They absorb language very quickly and brain function is therefore boosted. Brain function may even stay sharper as they age, giving the child a solid base to their education. Exposure to a second language in infancy can lead to the child having a greater understanding of their own language and increased confidence and self esteem. At Hola Muchachos we strive to create a casual learning environment where children are given opportunities to use their language. They get so excited while learning Spanish and their great sense of achievement is obvious. I believe that every child would benefit from this opportunity. 

Hola Muchachos Spanish and games classes for early learning

What are some tips to folding the new language into daily life?

Anywhere and everywhere! 

Grasp every opportunity to use your new language in the day....counting going up and down stairs, colours while out on a walk, use greetings language socially and encourage good manners in the target language also. Supermarkets are great to practice food vocabulary while a trip to the zoo or the farm offers endless opportunities. Praise your child in the target language and try everything you can to help your child realise that languages are more than simply another school subject.

If you have any words in another language, pass them on and celebrate your ability. Your aim is not to teach perfection or fluency in a language (unless you have the language ability to do so), it is to instil the confidence to give any language a go. 

Are there any toys you find particularly useful? Or resources online to compliment learning?

I have a wonderful tri-lingual singing octopus who offers 8 colours in French, Spanish and English that I have used in many ways. I love using my old school wooden abacus for maths activities, and my trusted parachute & puppets are always a massive hit across the board. I own very few language specific resources (apart from foreign language childrens books which I really cannot resist buying). I really like to be creative and use things I find lying around to teach with. These range from clothes pegs, my fruit bowl, shoe boxes, socks, stuff from the garden...the list goes on.  My most recent achievement was making grey mouse tails from a pvc table cloth & safety pins for a traditional childrens song we were teaching (5 ratoncitos de colita gris) The kids light up when they see the tails come out!  

What’s your favourite phrase in Spanish? Maybe something that can’t exactly be translated to English?

ME ESTAS TOMANDO EL PELO which translates literally to: You're pulling my hair and figuratively to Are you pulling my leg?

Any other things you want to say about schooling or parenting and languages? 

What I would like to say is to anyone who is debating whether to introduce ANY language to their child is just do it! Our youngest ever baby in our infants class was just 5 weeks! Our new mum really wanted to learn how to sing in Spanish to her baby so she came along each week, learnt a new song every time and sang it to her daughter all week. 

There are few activities that you can actually join in and learn something new with your child so start as you mean to go on and have some fun learning something new with them. From the second they are born we are building the foundations to their future. We all want the best for our children and language development is a huge part of this. Give them the confidence to give anything a rattle...who knows where it will bring them.

Lynn founder of Hola Muchachos with her daughterLynn with her daughter Maisie in the Hola Muchachos gear and some of the puppets that lead the songs in class. 

For more information about Hola Muchachos head over to their webpage here.


Shop for toys that help develop language skills

Toys that develop open minds

1. Sweetheart Dolls, £22 (US$33) to role play through feelings in whatever language you chose, go ahead and make one up even, you'll have your little one in stitches. 2. Bilingual Wooden Barbapapa ABC Puzzle, £28 (US$42) make the abc's fun with Barbapapa characters in French and English. 3. Puzzle Duo, £9.00 (US$14.50) match the number to the animals and try counting in English, Spanish, Chinese, learn something while you teach! 4. Girls of the World Magnetic Game, £24 (US$36) discover style from around the world. 5. World Puzzle in Wood, 150 Pieces £16 (US$24) names of places are in French. A Practiqué!

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