Hilltown Families Have the French Experience in Ashfield
Several hilltown families have begun to gather for an informal French language learning group with their children. Families from Ashfield, Chesterfield, Cummington and Shelburne Falls participated in the first group gathering this past Saturday. A recent French studies major from Cornell University and local Conway resident lead the group in French songs and conversation.
“I feel it’s important to expose my child to different languages and cultures as a supplement to her education,” commented one parent participant. “I wish our public schools offered exposure to different languages at a much younger age.”
“All of the research suggests that from birth through eight to 10 years of age is the best time to introduce new languages to a young child. Yet, for some reason, most school systems introduce a new language around age 12,” comments Beth Butler, creator of the BOCA BETH Program, an integrated program of bilingual educational materials designed to give young children a head start on becoming bilingual. “If you introduce a new language early in life, children will learn it faster, retain it better, and most often speak it with near-native pronunciation.”
This first session focused on the body and clothing in French. The song Tête, Epaules, Genoux et Pieds (the French version on Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes) was lead by the facilitator with participants touching different parts of their bodies as it correlated with the words in the song.
“There are two ways to learn a new language,” says Butler. “Bilingual education – teaching English and [a different language] side-by-side … provides continuing education in the child’s native tongue while acquiring skills in the new one. Children develop a sense of pride in learning both languages. The bilingual method ultimately provides better retention. And it’s a whole lot more fun.”
There is a wonderful website that offers a resource for songs that can be used to build reading and language arts skills. It’s called Songs for Teaching and offers a definitive on-line resource for educational music.
The next French group gathering for kids will be on January 27th from 2-3:30pm. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org. Suggested donation for the facilitator is $5.
Upcoming sessions will include
- Numbers & Alphabet
- Cooking & Kitchenware
- On the Farm in the Barn