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Languages Can Take You Places In Every Sense

It_is International Languages Week from Sunday 20 August _ Sat 26 August.

Languages Can Take You Places In Every Sense Of The Word.

International Languages Week is now well established in New Zealand communities and schools, with many doing creative, entertaining things to get across the importance for New Zealanders of learning international languages.

Mangawhai couple, Chris and Ross Perkinson, cycled in Europe during their honeymoon. They felt like the missed out on so much, only being able to speak English, while being surrounded by people who spoke several languages.

In 2000 when their first child was two, they became interested in the idea of her learning a second language, but found very little available, especially living in a rural community.

It is widely accepted now that the earlier a child is exposed to a foreign language, the better. Simply by listening to other languages, neural pathways are activated and sound recognition skills are increased, making it easier for children to become bilingual later in life. We are designed to learn languages in the first five years of life, so this is when the brain is the most receptive.

When children learn a language at a young age, they learn to speak like a native speaker, where as an adult, we will always speak with a Kiwi accent. On a trip to Switzerland, a kindergarten teacher said that their 2 year old spoke with a beautiful German accent.

Now, their 22 month old, will point to all his body parts when asked completely in German to do so. He asks to watch Professor Toto _ a full German immersion cartoon DVD which is designed to teach languages to children up to the age of 12. The creator of this programme has been teaching languages in New York to preschoolers for over 30 years.

There are now preschoolers and young children all over New Zealand learning to speak a foreign language.

It is exciting to see that now 42 percent of primary schools, 64 percent of intermediates, and 96 percent of secondary schools now offer teaching of other languages. The Government intends to increase funding for language learning, so that every New Zealand child has a chance to learn another language.

Excited by the experience with their own children Chris & Ross, in 2003, they formed the company New Beginnings. This is a website based company specialising in products to teach languages to babies through to adults.

Products come in a range of formats, including Audio CD and Cassettes, Interactive CD Rom_s, Videos, Interactive DVD_s, Bilingual Dolls and Games. Children enjoy the challenge of learning, when it is fun and interactive. Some of these products come in over 100 different languages, including Maori. With large Dutch, South African, Indian, Chinese and Japanese populations in NZ these products have been popular with parents trying to motivate their children to embrace their native language. The Computer CD Roms where you can play bingo, build a Frankenstein and compete in a game show, in these languages have helped their cause.

With the Government recently launching it_s proposed new curriculum, where foreign languages has taken centre stage, it seems that New Zealand is now trying to align itself with the rest of the world and beginning to place significance on second language learning.

Languages Week raises the awareness of second language learning and children this week throughout NZ will participate in the Greetings Project (Ni hao! on Monday, Bonjour! on Tuesday, Guten Tag! on Wednesday, Konnichiwa! on Thursday and Buenos dìas! on Friday).

New Beginnings has an on-line competition during Languages Week at . Go online and enter and tell them you heard about them through us.

New Beginnings is a company that was established to cater for this growing
market. As teachers and parents, Chris and Ross Perkinson, have a feel for
what is needed to motivate children to learn languages.

They are running an on-line Languages Week $500 promotion at
from Monday 21 August where they can input where they heard about New Beginnings.


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