Is my baby too young?
In a word: no! Language learning begins even before birth, and babies recognise their mother tongue when they are born. They are able to hear any sound in any language for most of their first year, and start to tune into the language they hear most after about ten months. If you expose babies to foreign languages and sounds in their first year, they will have a lifelong positive relationship with learning languages as well as a permanent neural map of the languages they were exposed to, even if they have a significant gap before picking up the foreign languages again (e.g. at school).
Do I need to be fluent?
No – you don’t need any previous experience to enjoy Babel Babies sessions. We introduce you gradually to the lyrics over the five-week term and you’ll be amazed how quickly you pick up the songs, even if you don’t speak any other languages at the beginning. One mother now sings her baby a French and a Spanish song every night at bedtime, but didn’t speak a word of either language before she started coming to Babel Babies.
Why five-week terms?
Every term we learn a range of new songs and old favourites, building up your knowledge and confidence over the five weeks so that by the end of the term you will be singing along to around eight songs in eight languages. You’ll be amazed how much you and your children learn over the five weeks as we introduce you gradually to your favourite songs in many languages.
Why don't you have the words up?
We learn the words aurally at Babel Babies sessions because we want you and your little ones to learn languages together. It is not a test on how quickly you can pick up the words compared to the other adults, but a collaboration between you and your children. Children learn to talk through listening and watching their parents speaking to them, and we try to replicate this primary method of language learning in our sessions. It’s not about getting it right first time but showing children how much fun it can be to experiment with language.
Why so many languages?
We believe that teaching children about other languages and cultures really broadens their horizons and gives them an understanding of the world around them. They have the capacity to learn several languages simultaneously (the majority of children in the world speak two or three languages!) so why not make the most of their incredible abilities? Also teaching how to learn any language is a valuable skill that they can then transfer to primary school, where they might encounter any language in Key Stage 2.
What are the benefits?
There are huge benefits to both parents and children when they learn languages together. Research published in 2014 showed that adults' brains remained flexible for longer when they had learned a second language (you are never too old!) and that the process of learning languages slowed down the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. Children who are brought up with exposure to more than one language can not only speak more than one language (and boy do they pick them up quickly!) but the workout it gives their brains gives them cognitive advantages in other subjects such as Mathematics, and also helps them block out distractions in noisy classrooms as they are used to focussing on one language while ignoring distracting signals in the other.