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Learning a second language: Great summer activity for kids

Sherri Kuhn blogs at Old Tweener, where she writes about raising teenagers, the perils of a clean home, wistfulness over babies, and anything else that makes her laugh (or cry) in the years between changing diapers and wearing them. With...

Language programs to avoid a summer slump

Summertime is here, and sometimes learning takes a backseat to other activities. While it’s nice to have a break from school, there is also a window of time for learning a new skill. Speaking a second language is a valuable asset in the world of today, and what better time for your child to start learning one? Keep reading for a few options in second language learning tools.

Learning a second language as a child opens a door to another culture and a bigger world beyond the one they see each day. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, proficiency in languages other than English is critical in our global society. Want to start your younger child on a second language program, or help your middle or high school student get a better grasp of the second language they study in school? Check out these language learning programs we found that will give your child an edge.

Muzzy

Muzzy

Have younger children and want to start them on a second language? With animated stories, vocabulary and musical DVDs Muzzy ($200) immerses your child in the language in a natural immersion method — modeled after the way we all learned our first language. You will be amazed at how quickly your younger child finds herself speaking common words in a new language.

The cute graphics and animated characters bring fun to learning a second language for the younger crowd. What a great way to get a head start! They offer nine languages and your Muzzy purchase includes three months of free online access to supplement the teaching materials.

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

With an astounding selection of 25 languages, Rosetta Stone ($400) offers language instruction for almost everyone. More than 20,000 K-12 schools and districts around the world have incorporated Rosetta Stone into their curriculum to meet the growing demand for second language skills.

You can learn at your own pace, and start learning a new language the very first time you use it. It comes with a good quality headset and microphone, and uses a voice recognition feature which is great for testing out your new words and phrases. Rosetta Stone would be good for ages 5 and up, but is especially good for middle and high school students to get a jump on language acquisition during the summer months. The visual aids enhance the language learning and retention.

Pimsleur Approach

Pimsleur Approach

The Pimsleur program ($10 initial program/$256 for each additional level) uses an all-audio format with no video content at all. They claim that they have scientifically sequenced their information for easier retention. Pimsleur offers 16 languages and is available in MP3 format for people who are always on the go.

Each lesson is only 30 minutes, not a large time commitment for teens or young adults. Dr. Paul Pimsleur, the founder of this program, was a language educator for over 20 years and noticed that children have an amazing ability to learn a new language. He devoted his life to developing a program for adults and older teens to learn a new language as easily as a child would. This program focuses on 2,500 distinct words in the new language that comprise the majority of your communication needs.

Little Pim

Little Pim

Little Pim ($170) is an award-winning foreign language learning series for the youngest children, from birth to age 6. They use animation and real kids to teach everyday phrases and simple words in 10 different languages. By using videos, apps, music, books and flash cards this program attempts to immerse small children in the new language, and makes it fun and easy at the same time.

The concept behind this system is that teaching a child a second language under the age of 5 gives them an edge in their writing, analytical and vocabulary skills. Little Pim was created by Julia Pimsleur Levine — award-winning filmmaker and mom. Pimsleur Levine (daughter of the aforementioned Dr. Pimsleur) worked with a team of filmmakers, animators, childhood development experts, linguists and an advising neuroscientist to create this language learning system for the very young.

Summer is a perfect time to start your child on learning a second language. With these great choices, there is bound to be a program for every family.

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