Bilingual can mean twice the fun!

Bilingual can mean twice the fun!


NEW YORK, Sept. 4 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — A child speaks English while playing with her friends, but turns around and asks her mother a question in Spanish. A grandmother sings a Spanish-language counting song to her grandson; his mother tells him in English to put on his coat. The little boy responds to both languages.

You may have seen similar scenarios on the playground, in your child’s school, at the grocery store – or even in your own household. Today, one in every five children in the U.S. is of Hispanic heritage; being bilingual is fairly common.

Many Latina moms new to the U.S. want to maintain ties to their countries of origin or to their culture by preserving their language and passing traditions on to their children. At the same time, Latino families know their children must be able to speak English to be successful in the U.S.

The kids are comfortable either way! Why does it seem so natural for a child to be able to switch back and forth from English to Spanish, when adults often struggle to learn a new language?

We learn language most easily during early childhood, explains Dr. Kathleen Alfano, Director of Child Research at Fisher-Price. In fact, the older the child, the more difficult it is to imprint the sounds, rhythms, and grammatical structures of another language on the brain. That’s because the child’s brain is not only more sensitive to nuances of sound and meaning, but also more likely to retain them by literally creating the pathways necessary to process the information – an ability that fades with each passing year.

Most bilingual children are not confused by two sets of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation because they have the extra brain pathways to accommodate the learning process, Dr. Alfano says.

Children raised in truly bilingual homes naturally incorporate both languages in their thought processes and verbal expression. The learning starts almost at birth; a baby quickly determines which sounds elicit more response, and which sounds will be ignored. Infants can mimic language long before they’re able to use it.

Even in homes where only one language is spoken, exposing a child to the sound of another language through books, tapes, music and bilingual toys can help lay down the pathways necessary for the child to learn that language–or others–through more formal education later.

This fall, four new bilingual Dora the Explorer(TM) and Handy Manny(TM) toys from Fisher-Price and Mattel open doors to worlds of fun and activities for all kids.

“Dance with Me Dora,” the interactive dancing doll inspired by the Dora Saves The Crystal Kingdom TV movie, lets girls dance up a storm in two languages. Press on Dora’s crystal necklace to watch Dora perform one of her four choreographed dances or to follow her invitation to dance along to several bilingual Crystal Kingdom songs.

Girls age five and up can interact with Dora’s Explorer Girls Dora Links doll – now in middle school with a whole new fashionable look. By plugging the doll into the computer, girls can access Dora’s new interactive online world where they can explore, play games, and solve mysteries. As they play, girls can customize their doll and watch as she transforms right before their eyes. This bilingual online world empowers girls as they influence and change the lives of Dora and her friends.

The new kid-sized Manny’s Repair Shop features lots of projects that children can build, just like Manny – a bilingual Mr. Fix It – does with his talking tools on his TV show. Kids simply grab the blueprints, choose a project and slide that blueprint into the diagnostic center. Manny will recognize which project was chosen, walk the child through the steps and show how to complete the project. And when the power tools randomly break down, Manny asks the kids to fix them, too – with English and Spanish phrases.

Handy Manny takes off for his next job on his motorcycle just like on the show. Manny’s Motorcycle includes a poseable Manny that can be removed from the bike and lots of things inside to fix using Rusty the wrench and Felipe the Phillips screwdriver.

“Bilingual toys set the stage for future language development while children are having fun,” says Dr. Alfano. “Children’s play patterns are universal. They get so absorbed in what they are doing – like drawing, playing music, stacking, or exploring a playset theme – they don’t even realize they are speaking and playing in two languages!”

SOURCE Fisher-Price

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Bilingual can mean twice the fun!