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Bilingual Beats Lead to Language, Literacy and Math Fun

Nov 29, 2007
Never has it been this easy to find materials to bring education into your home as a stay at home mom, a grandparent given the distinct and honorable task of watching your grandchildren or as a homeschooling parent striving to do the best you can do. The internet has provided us the means to seek and download countless varieties of educational materials along with the medium to research other instructional products for purchasing.

As a mom of three children who each possess bilingual skills at varying degrees along with an educator of thousands of children ages 6 months through ten years, I feel the sense of urgency to quicken the pace of the learning. What better way to do that than with music? Research has shown that if you take a concept, add a little music, some rhythm and movement, you will have a sure fire way of introducing and engaging the young child to long term retention of that concept.

Think back to your younger years. Do you still have that one song that sticks in your head no matter how many years go by? That one that taught you your days of the week in French, or how to multiply by two, or simply the catchy ABC song we now share with our own children? This concept of using music to enhance learning situations is nothing new and is one we should embrace as we go back to the basics of early childhood learning experiences.

There is the cry to return to the nursery rhymes of long ago. To drop the Leap Pad and the computer games and simply share your lap with a child who will listen to and real along with those rhyming gems of long ago. A strong connection between learning and rhythm was discovered and built upon years ago, and now we can bring global learning to our children through this same theory.

Take a song, best if it is one you and your child both know the melody of, make up some new words that introduce the new language right next to your native language. This type of made up song is called a Piggyback Song. Need an example? Okay, here is a simple one. Take the tune Mary Had a Little Lamb and sing about shapes by injecting words like these:

A circle is rolling by, rolling by, rolling by,
A circle is rolling by, a circle is a circulo.
A circle is a circulo, a circulo, a circulo,
A circle is a circulo. I know my shapes.

It is so easy to then bring in the words for square, rectangle, triangle, heart and so on. In this example, we did English and Spanish. Use your imagination and use any new target language you would like to introduce right along with the native language of your children.

Learning a second language has never been so easy! A child learning this way, in what is called a bilingual format where his native language is sung right alongside his native language, will actually read sooner than monolingual children who are not receiving this type of musical, bilingual instruction according to Dr. Ellen Bialystok and her team of experts at York University. The study conducted by this team also showed that children receiving instruction in two languages will experience advanced cognitive development and problem solving skills and higher test scores on certain sections of standardized tests.

As a mom and as a teacher that is important to me as I know it is to you. Not only can we prepare our young children for a very global economy, one that will require the command of more than one language in order to excel, we can also provide them a fun and engaging manner in which to gain knowledge in a second language, skills in math and the ability to read early in life.

You cannot carry a tune? You have not even the slightest inclination as to where to start? You have not one creative bone in your body to begin writing your own Piggyback Song that might introduce French to your newborn? No worries amigas, amigos, friends. Remember the internet? Remember those search engines? They will help drive you to a plethora of web sites meant solely for giving you some affordable, sometimes free and most often very practical tools and tips on how to jump start your motivation and creation of these bilingual songs.

Feel the beat! Think creatively! Have fun, and before you know if you and Junior will be on a journey where the only required things in your backpack will be water to quench your thirst after all of your singing and some musical shakers to keep the beat as you sing, dance and play your way to a second language.
About the Author
Beth Butler is the founder of the BOCA BETH Program for young children. Scoop your child up onto your lap and listen in for free to our bilingual beats at http://www.bocabeth.com. Order online or call toll free 1.877.825.2622
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