Margaret Moran / North Lake Tahoe Bonanza
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Squeezing the base of an inflated blue balloon, a French instructor counts its launch — “un, deux, trios” — with his two pupils reciting along. As the balloon soars in the air, deflating, its young onlookers issue laughs.
Using games, toys and music, the Incline Village-based Tahoe Foreign Language Center is helping teach young children new languages in small classroom settings.
“I want them to feel like they’re coming to play, but they pick up language that way,” said Joyce Hugar, co-owner of the center.
After 12 sessions, 9-month-old babies were able to distinguish phonetic Mandarin elements, according to a study by University of Washington neuroscientist Patricia Kuhl. “Equally astounding, infants who were exposed to the same language material via DVD — either with audio and video or audio alone — showed no learning whatsoever. Apparently, those tapes and videos playing foreign languages to infants are not getting through!” stated Dr. Kuhl
Do Better In School
“Children who are exposed to other languages also do better in school, score higher on standardized tests, are better problem solvers and are more open to diversity,” says François Thibaut, who runs The Language Workshop for Children.