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Any child can learn a second language
|Founded||Bozeman, Montana (2000)|
|Founder||Gigi Swenson and Ellen Guettler|
|Headquarters||Bozeman, Montana, U.S.|
|United States and Canada|
|Products||Second Language Education|
|Website||Music Lingua - Foreign Language for Kids (French - German - Spanish)|
Music Lingua is a program for teaching second language (French, German or Spanish) to English speaking children. It combines original music along with aspects of various methodologies endorsed by leading researchers in language acquisition to teach second language to children from newborn up to age 6 or so.
Aspects of the Music Lingua Method
Among the key aspects that distinguish this method are:
- The strong integration of music into the teaching method
- A focus on very young children, at an age when they are most able to absorb a second language
- The use of thematically-based units
- The pragmatic combination of a variety teaching methods endorsed by leading researchers in language acquisition
- An emphasis on a fun, low-stress environment, lowering the child's Affective Filter, which is believed to be key to successful early language acquisition
- Integrated take-home materials for every student, including music CDs, which encourage practice of the target vocabulary between classes
The importance of starting early with Second Language Acquisition
A fundamental premise for the Music Lingua Method is that young children learn language in a different manner than older children or adults. Young children are said to "acquire" language naturally, while older children must learn the language by rote - a method that is less effective and more work. Furthermore, early exposure to the sounds of a second language is key to acquiring a good accent in that language.
Second Language and Brain Development
Research has shown that when young children are exposed to multiple languages they form unique neural connections and additional dense gray matter for each language. This increase in brain capacity could explain why bilingual children statistically do better than mono-lingual children in other topics, such as math and logic, and tend to generally outperform their mono-lingual classmates academically.
Music and Language
Like language, early exposure to music seems to promote an increase in brain structure, resulting in increased math and logic skills for the child. Although music and language stimulate different portions of the brain, there seems to be a synergy between them. By combining music and language, Music Lingua attempts to capitalize on this synergy. The music makes the classes more fun and interesting for the child, and also provide a vehicle for practice of the language between classes. While the musical aspect offers its own separate benefits, Music Lingua's primary goal in combining the two is to make language acquisition more effective.
Incorporation of Other Methodologies
Music Lingua also pragmatically incorporates portions of other methodologies endorsed by the leading researchers in language acquisition. These include Dr. Stephen Krashen's theory of language acquisition vs learning, Dr. Tulare’s facilitative language approach, Dr Asher’s Total Physical Response (TPR), and Dr. Tracy Terrell’s Natural Approach to language acquisition, which focuses on the use of "Mother-ese" language (see "Baby Talk"). Forced-choice questioning techniques are also highly utilized, in which the target vocabulary is modeled for the child before he or she is expected to respond, greatly reducing the stress level and encouraging participation from the child.
Music Lingua Classes
Music Lingua classes are usually conducted as drop-off or parent-child classes, or are conducted in day cares and pre-schools such as Montessori schools. The classes are structured around thematically based units designed to be covered in approximately 10 to 12 weeks of classes, each meeting once a week for 45 to 60 minutes. Each unit has a theme (e.g. "Life on the Pond", Life at Home", "Life on the Farm" etc.). The music, activity books, props and class activities of a unit are all related to the common theme of that unit, allowing the repetition of key vocabulary in different context from class to class. Children receive take home materials, including a music CD and activity book which cover the songs used in class. Parents are encouraged to play the CD as much as possible between classes, giving the children daily exposure to the target vocabulary. By the second class session most children are already singing along with the songs, although they may not yet understand the words. During subsequent class time the teacher engages the children in singing and hands-on activities that put context to the new vocabulary from the song lyrics.
Music Lingua Business Model
Music Lingua is a Limited Liability Partnership based in Bozeman, Montana. It offers a training program to train qualified people in the Music Lingua method, and equips them to teach classes in their area. Although it resembles a Franchise or Business Opportunity, it is technically neither: Music Lingua teachers operate independently under a licensing agreement. There are currently Music Lingua teachers in California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
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