West Orange, New Jersey – Elena Koestel is not your ordinary six-year old. She is trilingual, fluent in English, Spanish, and French and has recently taken on Mandarin Chinese with a little prodding from her parents, Franck Koestel and Cristina Santamaria, residents of West Orange, NJ. Pablo, her little brother, is just three but he is on his way to being quadrilingual along with the rest of his family. Franck and Cristina believe that language is more than just words that we speak, but also a door to greater opportunities, stronger and more meaningful relationships with people, and ultimately a more peaceful world.
Raising multilingual children can feel daunting much of the time, however. After all, we all live busy lives, so the question becomes – how can we fit it all in? Franck and Cristina believe that it is all about taking advantage of what we already do every day. Using everyday activities to teach language and make the experience fun is key. The family proposes that making 10 minutes count is all it takes to have fun together while inspiring their kids to become multilingual: “We sing French songs in the car, read in French while having breakfast, play puppets in Spanish, watch French cartoons on YouTube, pretend we are Spanish soccer players. Play accelerates learning. Our children learn without being aware of it.”
Princesses Learn Chinese
Watching their kids have a ball while learning languages 10 minutes at a time was their inspiration for developing an app for iPhone and iPad called “Princesses Learn Chinese (TM)” which teaches Mandarin Chinese through stories, games and songs. The app is set to be released to the general public on September 16th. The family hopes that they can inspire others to reap the benefits of multilingualism by making on-the-go language learning engaging and fun.
In many ways, Elena and Pablo really are ordinary children. There’s nothing special about their brains that allows them to absorb the words and inflections of other languages; they have simply been given the opportunity to learn them – a privilege that most children in the United States don’t have until secondary school when learning a new language becomes more difficult. According to Patricia Kuhl, co-director of the Institute for Brain and Learning Sciences at the University of Washington, “babies and children are geniuses at learning languages.” All they need is for someone to open the door. Franck Koestel and Cristina Santamaria feel privileged to have the opportunity to do just that.
* iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
* Requires iOS 3.2 or later (iOS 4.0 Tested)
* 23.4 MB
Pricing and Availability:
Princesses Learn Chinese 1.0 is free and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Education category. For more information about raising multilingual children, you can contact Franck and Cristina online. Details about the free iPad/iPhone application can be found at their website.
Located in West Orange, New Jersey, early languages LLC aims to inspire children to learn new languages. Copyright (C) 2011 early languages LLC. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.
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