Family of N

Window of Opportunity

Posted in Preschool by Laura on April 6, 2009

Childhood is full of rich opportunities for learning, and sometimes the best opportunities are fleeting. When you have an infant around, sometimes you feel like every time you blink you miss a dozen of them.

One of the ways we’re trying to take advantage of this stage of constant learning is through frequent language exposure. At this age, our goal is for her to be able to be familiar with a wide range of sounds used in different languages, so at least twice a week, Savannah and I listen to podcasts (selected from this list) spoken in a few different languages.


We’re subscribed to feeds that teach Swedish, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese. I also have bookmarked recordings of the Old Testament read in Hebrew.

Typically we do Korean first and one or two others afterwards. My reasoning is that I don’t want Savannah to fall too far behind her cousin in Korean language study. 😉

I don’t actually expect her to learn the languages from this, but I do hope that it will make language acquisition easier down the road, because the sounds won’t be so foreign to her. My sister and I have always found language learning, and especially pronunciation, easier than most people find it, perhaps because as kids we would regularly come back from the library with language tapes to listen to. From a young age, we filled our ears with sounds from around the world. I want the same for Savannah.

I’m also planning to start asking more of my multilingual friends at church to speak to her in their second language. Savannah was positively engrossed this Sunday when one friend began speaking Vietnamese to her. If we had enough time to devote to this kind of language exposure, it would probably be the best way for her to learn a second language. (Though I won’t refuse a copy of Rosetta Stone if anyone’s dying to get rid of theirs!)

Next step will be narrowing down the language options and choosing one or two to begin studying with her. That’s a couple years away, but I do like to plan ahead. 😉

5 Responses

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  1. Harmony said, on April 7, 2009 at 8:04 am

    We also had a lot of language exposure when we were very little – or at least I did. Our mom made friends with families that lived near us (on our street, or at least had children in our preschool) that were Vietnamese, Korean, and Indian. I think Mom did some babysitting for the Vietnamese family (or vice versa? Mom would need to clarify) and I know I spent the night at the Indian family’s house, and that we were fairly good friends with the Korean family. And you can’t forget Big Bird Visits China! I had a Chinese girl in college tell me that my pronunciation of Ni-hau was “excellent”. The only explanation I have for that is Big Bird. 😉 Then, of course, there were the language tapes. I still remember a couple of songs in Russian and Japanese. But I don’t think we started listening to those until I was about in 3rd grade, because the bulk of them came from that new library near our house in DL.

    One of the “rules” JunkMale and I are planning to make with our children is that the only tv time allowed before age 5 or so is going to be foreign language learning. We have Mulan in Korean, and most of our other dvds have a French and Spanish language option. And I do have some anime in Japanese. I also intend to buy one or two Korean Barney/Sesame Street-esque dvds at some point. So if I have to plop a kid down in front of the tv (and I imagine that eventually I’m going to want to do that – hopefully quite infrequently), they will at least be learning something. At least that’s the theory. lol

  2. Iris said, on April 10, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    It is so neat that you are doing this! I have to comment and say that you and your sister’s pronunciation of the Korean language is impressive. 🙂

  3. Sherry said, on April 13, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    I babysat for a little Vietnamese girl (Chau) when she & Harmony were 3. H. was also friends with the Korean girl but I can’t remember her name (last name was Lee, if I remember correctly). The Indian friends were Monica & Sonia, but as far as I know, they spoke English. H. was also friends with Tran (Vietnamese) in elementary school. They also had American friends too!

  4. Harmony said, on April 14, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Her last name was Oh, I thought….

  5. Sherry said, on April 14, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    You are right, Harmony. [First name removed] Oh.

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