President Sarkozy of France has said that all French children should learn English at the age of three. He said he wants French children to learn 'the language of Shakespeare'.
In comparison, General Charles de Gaulle, never spoke anything but French in public. Opposition to the idea claims it will dilute the French language. Some say its just a trend, others say that children of three can barely talk their own language let alone cope with a second language. The French have always been highly protective of their language, introducing bans on the import of foreign words (such as 'computer' and 'internet') into their own language, instead mandating the use of French terms.
France's Education Minister states that not learning English can be a real hindrance to French people. In England we learn a second language at age 11 although some schools introduce languages earlier.
There are so many children and toddlers for whom English is not their first language; when it comes to observing these children in a childcare setting, whether it be a nursery or childminders, it is very easy for the carer to suggest that when it comes to communication, that the child has"no language". In fact, they do have a language, its just they are not using it or English in the setting, so carers need to be careful in these circumstances. Children need to be encouraged in both languages when they are little to avoid problems of alienation and isolation.
Why should parents, carers and teachers encourage bilingual children?
How to help:
Children learning more than one language at a time do generally start speaking a little later, but in the long term, but this does not mean that they will never learn to talk. In the medium term they will rapidly grasp both languages and they will have a beneficial skill that will put them in a strong position throughout their lives!
Many people object to the informal use of the word 'kid' to denote children, claiming that kids are baby goats and not humans, but this informal usage has been with us a long time! The first record of the word 'kid' being used to refer to children dates back to 1599 and by the middle of the 19th Century, the word had entered common everyday usage.
The Internet gives us a useful barometer to compare the use of 'children' and 'kids', and we quickly find that the term 'kids' is far more widespread in the Internet age than old fashioned 'children'! Looking at the frequency of internet searches, we discover that searches for 'kids' related terms outweigh 'children' related terms by a significant order of magnitude:-
Childrens Toys vs. Kids Toys: 1:3
Childrens Party Games vs. Kids Party Games: 1:9
Childrens Books vs. Kids Books: 2:3
We also find a strong bias towards American English which suggests that the term 'kids' is much more heavily used in the USA than in Britain. Indeed, when we search for terms more commonly associated with traditional English, we find that searches are split equally, as opposed to American English terms where kids continue to dominate:-
Childrens Movies vs. Kids Movies: 1:16
Children Films vs. Kids Films: 1:1
Childrens Behaviour vs Kids Behaviour: 1:1
Childrens Behavior vs. Kids Behavior: 1:6
These findings aren't scientific by any means, but our straw poll does show that 'kids' are here to stay. So if you've always been one of those pedantic people insisting that kids are animals, it looks like the world disagrees with you!
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