Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Anna the Lean Mean English Machine

Lately, I've been experimenting with various ways to teach 2.5 year old Anna how to speak English. While Marta is quite easy to teach as she already has the basic knowledge of English grammar to get by, and Pietro, despite his protestations, has a fairly good passive knowledge of the language, Anna is a blank sheet waiting to be written upon, making her extremely impressionable! My favourite way so far is put into practice whenever I pick her up from school.

What happens is that whenever we walk home together, we stop at a small shop with a window display bursting with colourful Halloween decorations. Stuck to the window itself are a number of leaf and pumpkin themed stickers, most of which are arranged in an alternating pattern along the edge of the bottom sill. And when Anna runs up to the window, as she always does, I make a point to say outloud "leaf, pumpkin, leaf, pumpkin..." as I point to each sticker.

We have done this for three days in a row so far with no response from Anna except her insistence that pumpkins aren't called pumpkins, and leaves aren't called leaves (they are "zucce" and "foglie" she says!). However, today on the fourth day, just as I was losing all hope, she started copying everything I said! Pumpkin! Leaf! Toes! Knees! Legs! Arms! Belly! Cookie Monster! I couldn't have stop her rampent imitating even if I had wanted to.

It seems that all she needed was daily reinforcement! (And perhaps, the sweetie I gave her after she said "pumpkin" for the first time helped a little as well!)

Hurrah for early second language teaching!


Steph the WonderWorrier said...


Daily re-inforcement works wonders. With her being so young, you might find she's the easiest to teach in the end because she'll have the best abilities to learn the new language.

Just keep exposing her to english words (speak to her in english, have her repeat; read her english picture books...etc). She'll pick it up. What about some videos of english children's shows? Sesame Street is actually an amazing learning tool, I bet you could find videos online. :-)

heather-in-italia said...

That's exactly what I've been using as my secret weapon! The kids are now obsessed with Cookie Monster (in fact, they call every character on Sesame Street 'Cookie Monster', but that's just a detail :P) and I am bursting in my britches to show them Muppet Family Christmas. :D

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