Research has proven that when learning a second language each word or sound should be recycled sixteen times in order for it to be memorized, and each time it has to be through a different activity. That's a lot! Did you know that when you add a picture or a movement activity you can halve the learning process? This got me thinking… why only add a picture or a movement? Mnemonic devices are known to be very successful in remembering and retrieving information. Kinesthetics and body movement research has proven that when the body is in motion, endorphins and hormones are released from the brain and help regulate concentration and thus memory. About seven years ago in Canada, a sports program was piloted in many elementary schools during classroom teaching hours to help build concentration. After 15-20 minutes of teaching the students had to stand-up and engage in some form of physical activity for 2-3 minutes (this could be jumping jacks, running from one end of the room to the other, running in one sport, etc.). What teachers noticed is that after the physical activity children's concentration improved and the information taught was better retained.
Through the 'Simplish – English Made Simple' method all new words, sounds and letters are paired with a mnemonic strategy and a picture. After a one year trial in elementary schools (private and public), after-school curriculum activities, teaching over 100 students the Simplish method proved to be successful in both reading and writing. All children that completed the Simplish program were speaking, reading and writing on a foundation level with confidence and ease. The children were aged four to eight years old. In Israel many schools do not begin teaching English until grade three and some even grade four. Imagine what an amazing opportunity it was for majority of these children who have yet to learn English in a school setting but already know the basic foundation of the language. Until the age of 7 years old a child's brain is like a sponge. It can soak up almost anything, including languages. Why is this window of opportunity being neglected? English is the world's most practical language today and Israel is the start-up nation of the world. It is a gravely missed opportunity that Israeli children fall behind in speaking, reading and writing in English. If the foundation is strong from a young age then learning English in the coming years would not be difficult.
Naftali Bennet, the minister of education posted a video a week ago with a message to all Israeli students/children that they must invest in learning English. He went as far as to claim that learning English and being able to use it is more important today than a degree. Let's start investing seriously in our children's education using English programs and books that are developmentally appropriate for each age group and cognitive ability.
I would like to share some at home learning tips:
1. For bilingual families, make an effort at bedtime to read one book in English and one book in your mother-tongue.
2. When learning to write the alphabet, avoid starting in the traditional way using a pencil and paper. Start by practicing the alphabet using large gross motor skills in the sand, with flour poured on a plate or with play dough.
3. Introduce songs and shows in English. Allow your child's ear to get used to the sound and rhythm of the English language. If your child is older remove the translation at the bottom of the screen.
4. If in your community there is a family or child that speaks English make an effort for a play-date and speak only in English.
5. Mistakes are OKAY! Speak as much as you can and learn from your mistakes. The more you speak in English the greater your confidence will grow, the greater your vocabulary will expand and your English will improve greatly.
Wishing everyone happy and simple English learning because today's children are tomorrow's start-up nation and shouldn't they be the best in English!?