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When language learning becomes child’s play

When language learning becomes child’s play

Published: 29 Nov 2012 12:11 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Nov 2012 12:11 GMT+01:00

Keeping kids encouraged and keeping up enthusiasm is vital when it comes to teaching languages. That’s why Berlitz throws out the old-school textbook approach and ensures learning through fun and games in the classroom.

“Hello! My name is Tove,” says a smiley, sprightly eight-year-old girl. She speaks with confidence and follows up with the question: “what’s your name?”

She is very proud of the fact she can count to 30 in English, since it’s not her native language.

In many respects Tove Gustafsson is a typical Swedish youngster; she has lots of favourite books, she likes fashion and enjoys playing ‘princesses’ with her friends.

She lives with her parents in Vallentuna, just outside Stockholm, where we meet on a cold and rainy winter day.

But by this time next week, the Gustafsson family will be swapping the seasonal Swedish weather for the sun and beaches of Thailand, since her father Björn has secured a two-year expatriate contract with his employer.

"It’s really exciting," she adds and switches over to Swedish to chat more. "I’ve been to Thailand three times on holiday but now I’m going to live there."

And there she will enrol at an English-speaking school where she will be able to practise her new skill every day.

The Gustafsson’s entrusted Berlitz to best prepare their daughter for their new adventure abroad.

"It’s really fun and the teacher is very kind," Tove says. "We play a game where there are a lot of cards with different types of food and I have to say what is on the plate."

"I don’t know them all but I know a lot of them. I can say little sentences and my mummy says I know two hundred words in English now," she adds.

Having never studied English before, Tove has achieved this in 30 at-home lessons with an Berlitz tutor.

"I can count to thirty," she reminds us. "It's a bit difficult to say thirty in English though," and goes on to do a sterling job with her pronunciation.

Thankfully, she adds, she didn’t get too much homework but the teacher taught her songs to sing and practice and a book to read.

"It’s called The Enormous Crocodile," she says. "I read it every night and now I’ve read a whole book in English."

Her parents are equally proud as well as impressed with the programme. "What I liked most about it was the easy approach," says father Björn. "The lessons concentrated on practical elements rather than just doing exercises from a book."

Berlitz language programmes for kids and teens start from the age of four upwards and offer playful and innovative methods of learning with the greatest possible educational value.

In the last year alone, the company has seen substantial growth in children’s language tuition and has first-hand experience dealing with language learning for families moving abroad.

“We saw this trend starting a couple of years ago with more companies sending families on expatriate contracts,” says María Casás Arribas, Berlitz Learning Center Director.

“The children will enrol in international schools and speak English so that’s where we can help.”

Specially trained native speaking instructors lead your choice of either private tuition or group lessons which both guarantee quick learning success.

“Our tutors only speaking in the target language,” adds Casás Arribas. “Today, that is more unique for children than adults.”

“But it’s also very important to use the right age-related material. Language learning should be dynamic and innovative - you need different skills to teach children to keep them focused.”

A lot goes in to moving to a new country and language is key to make initial adjustments go much more smoothly.

Tove has also packed a lot into her lessons over the last few months so with her suitcase in hand and a head start with a new language she is now looking forward to her new home.

"I’m glad I learned English because it’s going to make it easier in school and easier to meet new friends," she says.

"It’s quite important to speak other languages and it’s really good if you can because you can speak to other people from all over the world."

Article sponsored by Berlitz

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