Oct 08

Does Learning Spanish or Mandarin Make Kids Forget English?

It’s natural to worry that learning a second language will make your child forget English. Although adults seem to forget one thing as soon as they learn another, kids’ brains work differently – especially in language.

Learning Spanish or Mandarin Will Not Interfere with Remembering and Using English


Because a child’s first language is such a significant part of his or her life, your child will naturally learn the fundamentals of English grammar without being taught. Once they reach school age, of course, they’ll be formally taught grammar rules. According to psychologists, this unconscious learning process is stored very early on in the brain and acts as a skill one can never forget, like riding a bike. In fact, language scientists have found that learning another language actually improves a child’s ability to speak and write grammatically correct English.

Moreover, numerous studies involving children learning other languages found that by encouraging children to contrast and compare the rules of another language, their ability to differentiate between the two languages is dramatically improved. This minimizes or even eliminates the potential for the second language to interfere with using the English language.

The "Bilingual" Brain

Did you know that the brain is like a muscle? Like any other muscle, the brain needs continuous exercise to keep it functioning as its optimal rate. One of the best ways to exercise the brain is by learning how to speak, read and write in another language. By utilizing neurons that are vital for relaying messages throughout the brain, this maintains the high-order operations that the brain performs, such as organizing, memorizing details, and expressing ideas.

Children exposed to two languages from an early age often develop what neuroscientists call a "bilingual brain" that is capable of processing languages through the brain's left hemisphere. However, children who are older than 12 often experience more difficulty learning another language because researchers discovered that older "bilinguals" experience the language learning through the right hemisphere of the brain, which seems to delay the ability to "pick up" another language. (This could also explain why adults have a harder time with a new language.)

Further, when children have the ability to express themselves in a second language, it heightens their ability to articulate their thoughts and ideas in their native language.

Why It’s So Important to Learn Another Language

Living in a world that’s as culturally and linguistically diverse as ours, knowing a second language like Spanish or Mandarin is becoming increasingly necessary for children. The good news is, that knowledge won’t affect their English.

Oct 01

How Long Will it Take for My Child to Become Fluent?

If you are considering enrolling your child in a program that teaches a second language, we can probably guess the first question on your mind: How long will it take? Unfortunately, our answer isn’t so direct: it depends.

It depends on age, time commitment, if there is full or partial immersion in the target language, and how you define fluency.


Conversational fluency is much more quickly attained than fluency in reading and writing, and is incremental based on grade level.

However, as bilingual professionals, we can provide you with our best estimates based current Jump! Immersion School current students, and scores met with SOPA (Student Oral Proficiency Assessment).

  • For full-time children under twelve years old learning Spanish: At Jump!, we predict roughly 9 months to one year to become conversationally fluent.

  • For part-time children under twelve years old learning Spanish: At Jump!, we predict roughly one year to eighteen months to become conversationally fluent.

  • For full-time children under twelve years old learning Mandarin: At Jump! we predict roughly one year to 18 months to become conversationally fluent.

  • For part-time children under twelve years old learning Mandarin: At Jump! we predict roughly 18 months to 2½ years to become conversationally fluent.


Age Consideration

Age is an incredibly important factor when answering the question “how long will it take to become fluent?” Generally, younger students (five and under) have the capacity to learn a language much more quickly than students older than five years old. Older students, eight or nine and older, may learn slightly slower than toddlers or younger children.

Time Commitment

Time commitment is essential when becoming fluent in another language. We recommend at least one hour daily of speaking the target language aside from lessons or programs your child is already in.

Language Learned

There is a difference in the time it takes to become fluent across languages. Generally, it takes students less time to become conversationally fluent in Spanish than it takes students to become conversationally fluent in Mandarin.

Immersion

For full immersion, the length to learn any new language shrinks exponentially. This is why when learning a new language, language professionals highly recommend some form of immersion to hone conversational skills. At Jump!, our method in teaching language fluency is grounded in immersion, and maintain that this is the best way to achieve full conversational fluency.

If you have any more questions on language fluency, feel free to call one of Jump’s centers for more in-depth responses from our education and language professionals.

Sep 10

6 Ways the Jump! Method Teaches Children to be Fluent

The Jump! method helps your child learn to speak Spanish or Mandarin — naturally! From in-depth studies to singing and dancing, here are six ways Jump! makes learning a second (or third) language easy.


1. Tested Reading and Writing Methods

Jump! teaches the "target languages" (be it Spanish or Mandarin) to children in the same way they learn English — high frequency words or characters and memorization help them pick up a second language comfortably in the initial stages.

2. Music to the Ears

Children enjoy singing, and Jump! takes full advantage of that by taking vocabulary words and turning them into catchy songs that students can sing at home. Teachers additionally share songs from their homelands that preschoolers know and love.

3. Everything Happens in Spanish...and Mandarin

Jump! uses native speaking teachers so all conversations take place in the target language. From encouragement to verbal and visual cues, your child won't hear a word of English or "less than a handful of English words.”

4. Structure Means Everything

Children crave structure, which is why the Jump! program is very organized. Jump! kids always know exactly where they’re going to sit, what they’re going to do, and where they’re going next. This way they don’t need to pay attention to the little things, so they can focus on learning.

5. Go Ahead — Act Out

Another way Jump! teaches the Target Languages is dramatization -- acting out the story or lesson being taught. Children are told what to do in the Target Language and are encouraged to respond physically. Based on noted professor James Asher’s “Total Physical Response” method, dramatization works especially well for younger children.

6. Experience-based Learning

The Jump! program strongly believes in learning through experience — making art, cooking and more. We even stage plays to help our kids get over their fear of speaking the Target Language in public.

The Takeaway

If you're like most parents, a high-quality education for your kids is a top priority. Jump! delivers exactly that — in a fun and entertaining setting that sets the stage for academic excellence, at Jump! and afterwards.

Sep 06

Make Sure Your Child's Language Lessons "Stick" With this Easy Tip

Teaching your child a new language is one of the best things you can do for them. However, some parents find that motivating a child to practice is difficult.

A variety of factors contribute to boosting motivation, such as positive incentives, or a safe environment to practice new skills. The most important skill, however, is simply ensuring the child practices enough to retain his or her new language skills.

So, how can you make learning Spanish and/or Mandarin education fun so that your child is willing to practice?

How About… a Tent?

It may sound a little out of the ordinary, but here at Jump! we recommend a method that works every time: set up a tent.


The tent doesn’t have to be anything grandiose — a $30 pop tent from Wal-Mart is all you need. Even blankets draped over the backs of some dining room chairs will do. For an extra bonus, line the tent with twinkle lights and set down some colorful pillows in cultural parallel to the language your child is learning.

The important factor here is that you create a special location that's "fun" and geared towards at-home language immersion. The tent could be in your backyard, in the living room, or in the rec room. The goal is to create a location where, once your child steps into the tent, he or she feels excitement. Your job is to direct that excitement towards language-learning.

The Secret Ingredient to Mastering the Tent Method:

Spend at least 30 minutes a day in the tent, and when you’re in there, your child can only speak Spanish or Mandarin.

Consider it a game: perhaps the tent “transports” you to a Spanish or Mandarin-speaking country — and the only way to communicate with each other is through this new language.

Decorate the tent to include Spanish or Mandarin-themed clothing or accessories. Use lots of color. You might even bring along a flashlight and music CD’s in Spanish or Mandarin to make it even more authentic (and fun!).

However, once your child understands the language-only rule, it's time to practice. Don’t worry about what you talk about… As long as you do so in Spanish or Mandarin, there are no rules.

Before you get into the tent, review your child’s lesson plan for the day. Once inside, go over it together. Work on the language together if you are both learning. Jump!’s curriculum is very thorough and offers vocabulary words to follow if you yourself are learning Spanish or Mandarin. You can easily follow along.

Most importantly, make sure the activity is fun for both of you. It should not be a punishment to practice in this way.

Trust Us, the Tent Method Works

The Tent Method is positive reinforcement at its best. As your child learns to speak Spanish or Mandarin in the tent, he or she will become more comfortable with the learning process. Language-learning aside, the important factor is not just that he or she is practicing Spanish or Mandarin, but that the child is receiving — and enjoying — the one-on-one time with you.

Ultimately, your child will effectively practice learning another language while developing a closer bond with you – what more could you ask for?

Aug 31

Common Questions About Immersion Enrichment Programs

If you have decided to place your child in an immersion enrichment program to give them a more robust academic support system, congratulations! Your child is on their next step to language fluency and academic confidence.

However, if you have never enrolled your child in an enrichment program before, we understand that you may have some questions -- and Jump! is here to answer them.

1.  Will an enrichment program burn out or confuse my child?

This is a common question that we receive. Many parents believe that outside of school, children won’t want to engage in other academic work, or will be too busy with homework and other extracurricular activities. They wonder if adding language immersion to the mix may feel more confusing, especially if your child is young.

At Jump’s immersion enrichment programs, we combine fun with learning. Your child will improve their academic and language skills and have so much fun they won’t even notice. From storytelling to cooking lessons, your child won’t burn out or get confused.


2.  Will learning another language interfere with learning English?

Many wonder if learning another language will interfere with learning English in schools, but this is a common myth. In fact, bilingual children are more likely to be academically successful, which is why a bilingual supplemental education is invaluable.

Child psychologists have researched bilingualism and its effects on early childhood development, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. The benefits range from social development to having a more flexible approach to solving problems.

In addition, students who are bilingual rather than monolingual have greater empathy and capacity to connect with others.

Download this article which has even more information:

The Benefits of Being Bilingual (PDF) The Benefits of Being Bilingual (PDF)


3.  My child is older... Will it interfere with other homework and assignments for school?

If your child is approaching middle school, we understand concerns around homework and other extracurricular activities. While we understand that these concerns may begin surfacing, our program is designed for children under the age of 12 in mind and will not distract from homework and other assignments.

We believe that language immersion is an extremely valuable extracurricular activity, one that aids in all areas of development, creates a safe environment for children to learn, and provides them a life-long skill.

If you have any more questions regarding our immersion enrichment programs, we want to answer them! Please feel free to call our Edison or Livingston centers for more information.

We will see you soon!

Aug 24

5 Key Benefits of Our Saturday Immersion

Academic transitions can be difficult, especially if you have a child moving up to elementary or middle school. Tests become more significant, projects more in-depth, and essays become more difficult to navigate.

In situations like these, extra support may be necessary to foster a discipline in your child so that they know that while the weekends are fun, some work can be helpful. Jump! recognizes the importance of fostering a sustainable work ethic from a young age, which is why we offer Saturday Immersion at our Edison and Livingston locations.

With our specialized differentiated learning methods, children receive a thematic approach to language immersion and academic support in all areas. If your child already takes Spanish or Mandarin in school, then they will become more advanced more quickly. If they don’t, this can make room in your child’s school schedule to pick up another language!

If your child takes a Saturday Immersion Class at Jump!, expect these five core benefits:

#1 -- Consistency is the key to fluency

At Jump!, we firmly believe that consistency is the key to fluency. The more you practice, the more you will know. The best way to learn any language is simply to practice, so taking extra immersion classes on Saturday, where children are exposed to a fun approach to writing, listening, and speaking skills, they’re guaranteed to succeed in their target language.

#2 -- It eases the transition to school

Not only will Saturday Immersion classes aid in language development, but it will help ease the academic transition to elementary or middle school. Being a part of a fun, nurturing environment will foster a genuine love for learning and provide more confidence in classes. If your child is taking the target language in school, then it will make them more advanced, more capable, and give them more time to dedicate themselves to other challenges.

#3 -- It’s offered in levels with Jump’s signature method

As part of Jump’s differentiated learning method, each child’s education is specifically tailored. Offered for children age 5-12, Jump! mastered how to give each child a pinpointed approach to language learning in a way that’s so fun, they won’t even realize they’re learning!

#4 -- Well-rounded curriculum to bridge the gap

For our Saturday Immersion classes, we offer a curriculum in four target areas: Reading, listening, speaking, and writing. This gives our students an encapsulating approach to learning the target language.

We also supplement these four target areas with storytelling, games and arts & crafts so that they can learn all while having fun!

#5 -- Cultural knowledge

Perhaps one of the best parts of enrolling in Saturday Immersion classes is the emphasis on a cultural education on the target language. Children are exposed to traditional food, art, music, and expressions of tradition.

Combined, these five core benefits make up the global advantage that Jump! offers to all of its students. From cultural knowledge to differentiated learning, your children will have something to look forward to on weekends -- and learn a new language in the process.

If you have inquiries about Saturday Immersion or want to schedule a tour, please contact us at our Edison or Livingston center. We can’t wait to have you!

Aug 15

Should You Supplement Preschool with an Enrichment Program?

After your child comes back from school, they might do homework or relax in preparation for the next day. But, if your child is struggling -- what if homework isn’t enough?

Enrichment programs are a great way to solidify lessons learned throughout the school day, help your child understand their individual interests, and foster a genuine love for learning and trying new things. There are a multitude of benefits for the right program, from improving classroom behavior to boosting social and academic growth.

At Jump!, we believe that enrichment programs are vital for a child’s development, especially if you choose the right program. Read more about some of the benefits that could accompany your child if they are enrolled in an enrichment program.

It promotes invaluable leadership skills and self-discovery.

According to the Boys and Girls club, over 80% of teens are part of extracurricular activities in high school and continue through college. Enrichment programs help children find what they are truly passionate about, and gives them the leadership skills to act proactively.

At Jump!, our enrichment programs are all-encompassing, with a curriculum spanning art, music, culture, language, and academic subjects. Here, children are in a safe space where they feel comfortable to explore and learn about a wide variety of subjects, and find one they are passionate about.

It builds interpersonal skills and self-esteem.

If your child is surrounded by a lively group of children working toward a common goal, it inevitably fosters teamwork. It creates a community outside of school where children can learn, engage, and above all, have fun.

This increased engagement, leadership skills, and teamwork also boosts confidence in children. In a more relaxed setting, children have the confidence to explore something they are passionate about and take it to the next level.

It improves behavior.

Teamwork, a passion for learning, and an inclusive environment means that your child will be exposed to a healthy atmosphere from the start. Enrichment programs promote discipline, especially learning how to conduct themselves in a classroom environment. Patience and listening skills are one of the many benefits that result from well-rounded programs.

It improves academic performance.

Above all, the most well-known benefit of enrichment programs is improved academic performance. The more children are exposed to academic environment, the more they will solidify the lessons they learn in class and achieve success.

In addition, enrichment programs often include problem-solving activities that promote analytical thinking. This means that many of the skills learned, even if unrelated to the exact academic success, will indirectly lead to success as well.

If you want to learn more about our enrichment programs or are considering Jump!’s well-rounded Saturday Immersion program, call us at the Edison or Livingston location to schedule a tour. We would love to show you up close what our enrichment immersion programs look like, and how they help lead to success.

We hope to see you soon!

Oct 10

Teaching Babies a Second Language

Check out this article on Futurity.com that explains how in just 1 hour per day, babies can begin learning a second language!

"Can babies be taught a second language if they don’t get foreign language exposure at home, and if so, what kind of foreign language exposure, and how much, is needed to spark that learning?"

Read the article here: Babies Can Learn Second Language in 1 Hour per Day »

[Photo Credit: I-LABS / University of Washington]

Jul 13

Questions to Ask on Your Bilingual School Tour

Academic language immersion? Total Physical Response? Target language allotment?

If some of these terms regarding bilingual schools are confusing for you, we understand. Touring your first bilingual school is much different than touring a monolingual school. There are certain questions about teaching style, academic environments, and teachers that are essential to ask before enrolling.

In bilingual schools, it’s all about the approach, goals, and their alignment with your goals. Different language-immersion schools have different standards, staffing, and procedures. To make sure you’re prepared for your first tour, we’ve compiled a list of 5 essential questions to ask the program director. Asking these questions will not only provide you with a deeper level of understanding of the bilingual system, but also allow you to tell which bilingual school is best for your family.

#1  How much of the target language is taught in the classroom?

This question is important because it showcases the school’s dedication to the target language. The target language allotment is essential to note so you can have a better understanding of the school’s day-to-day schedule and emphasis on language development.

At Jump! specifically, the breakdown is as follows:

  • For Preschool, the core content* is done in 100% target language immersion.
  • For our Pre-K program, the core content is done in 85% (5 hours) target language immersion.
  • For Kindergarten, the core content is done in 75% (4.5 hours) target language immersion.
  • For 1st grade the core content is done in 75% (4.5 hours) target language immersion.

(*Core content = language arts, math, circle time, calendar time, social studies, science)

#2  How are the teachers trained?

It’s equally important to ask the program director how the teachers are trained. Did they come from monolingual schools? Are they preschool-certified? What is the training process for an immersion school like? These questions are loaded, but necessary to ask because an immersion experience is a unique and specialized one.

Here at Jump!, our teachers are trained specifically with the immersion method in mind. All of our fantastic staff is trained thoroughly by the program director. Our lesson plans and curriculum are designed to accommodate for children learning both languages at once. Even more, our teachers are trained to focus on even the smallest of details when setting up their classrooms: even the most minute visual aids are expressed in the target language.

#3  Are the teachers native?

This question is most often missed because parents often assume that the teachers should simply speak the target language, and are qualified enough. However, being a native Spanish or Mandarin Chinese speaker is absolutely essential. For children to really become fluent in a language, becoming surrounded by native speakers improves pronunciation, cultural sensitivity, and provides a truer and more authentic immersion experience. For example, at Jump!, 100% of our staff are native speakers.

#4  What is the environment of your school? More of an emphasis on fun, or academics?

This is more of a general question to ask that can work for any type of school, but it’s especially important to ask of bilingual schools because each bilingual school has a different emphasis on fun and academics. Some schools are entirely academic-based and very serious in their language and academic pursuits. Others are more interested in providing the fundamentals of a target language in an academic setting. Still others, like Jump!, provide a rigorous academic setting that instills language fluency with all the essential fun.

It’s important to know what works for you and your family when asking this question, so don’t hesitate to bring it up to the program director.

#5  Tell me more about the interactions between teacher and student. Is there a language barrier?

This is a common, but necessary, question that parents should ask their program directors. The interaction between teacher and student should have one common theme: patience. Teachers in an immersion setting absolutely must be patient with their students, as open frustration and even anger will reduce the effectiveness of an immersion setting.

In most immersion settings, teachers are prompted to use Total Physical Response. This is a teaching tactic which utilizes the whole body to physically act out what the teacher is trying to demonstrate. This tactic is the visual version of context clues: “acting” out the lessons promotes a deeper sense of understanding, and thus eliminates the language barrier between teacher and student. The learning and immersion experience, using this method, is seamless.

Hopefully, these five questions will leave you feeling better prepared for when you attend your first bilingual tour! If you have any other questions, feel free to call one of our centers in Westfield, Livingston, or Edison for more information.

Hasta Luego!

Jun 29

Summer Camp Options: Full-time vs Part-time Immersion

Figure out what your child wants to do this summer... Check! Find the perfect summer camp program... Check! Enroll, sit back, and relax... Well, not so fast.

If you’ve decided to enroll in one of the Jump! all-immersion summer camp programs, you might have a few more questions before your child starts with us. Usually, one question sticks out in parents' minds the loudest:

"If I’ve chosen an immersion program, do I need to do full-time?
How do I decide?"

Financial differences and scheduling aside, full-time and part-time immersion actually have very different outcomes. Language immersion is a commitment on both ends. For us, we commit to providing the best instruction and nurturing environment possible for your child to reach the highest level of fluency possible within the 8-week time frame. For you, we simply need a consistent, focused presence.



So, when contemplating full-time or part-time immersion, consider the following points from Jump! instructors and that full-time and part-time immersion have different language fluency goals.

  • Full-time Immersion

For full-time immersion, language fluency is heightened and developed consistently for the eight weeks. Confidence in speaking the target language will emerge and you will see that your child will be able to speak in basic full sentences. The more your child goes, the more your child knows!

  • Part-time Immersion

For part-time immersion the goals are different. For example, children in our summer program for 2 days a week, for five weeks, the mission is to learn the fundamentals of the target language. This includes basic vocabulary along with basic conversational ability. Your child will emerge more confident in the target language, but limited to more simple and direct phrases.

Of course, all learning ability depends on age, previous experience, enthusiasm to learn, and willingness to speak. But generally, part-time and full-time immersion have different outcomes. If you are interested in exposing your child to an environment in which fluency is essential, then we strongly recommend the full-time enrollment for the full 8 weeks, if possible. However, if your goals are more flexible and you want your child to learn the fundamentals of the target language, part-time immersion can be a good choice. However, we believe that for any endeavor to learn a new language, especially a complex language like Mandarin, full-time enrollment will be much more beneficial.

The more they go, the more they'll know.

We hope this helps you decide the goals you and your child want to achieve from Jump! this summer. Whether it be exposure to a target language or a more intensive language immersion experience, Jump! is always here to answer any additional questions you may have.

Feel free to call any one of our centers in Westfield, Livingston, or Edison to ask us more about this.

We can’t wait to see you this summer!



Read more on our blog about summer camp:
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