Link back to other FAQs
Q: What degree of language competency typically results from ongoing participation?
A: Now is the time to learn! All kids will benefit from early language exposure just like listening to music as a baby and toddler helps with music acquisition. Imagine if Mozart had never been exposed to music until he was five or twelve or fourteen. The world of music might be a very different place.
How much exactly a child absorbs from The Purple School classes and what they can do after one session depends on many factors:
how old the child is when he/she starts learning the other language (the younger the better! Kids in the 3-5 year old classes can usually understand everything the teacher is saying in class within one session of 6-12 weeks and will often start saying words, phrases and/or singing songs around week eight)
personality of each child (more extroverted children will often speak more quickly than those who are more introverted, while introverted children are sometimes more quietly pensive and better at comprehension than their spoken language suggests)
how much additional exposure and assistance kids get outside of the 30, 45 or 120 minutes a week that they are with us. It’s great if parents can stay during class and take notes to help reinforce at home (whether staying is a good thing depends on whether the parents can do it without handicapping the learning of their kids, but where it works, some of our parents really enjoy this opportunity)
Interests of the kids in each class. Our teachers use a foundation of five our The Purple School’s 31 categories of learning (animals, basic conversation, body parts, colors, and verbs) but will also customize the curriculum (selecting items and aspects of the other 26 categories depending in part of where the interests of the kids in each individual class take the entire class)
In understanding outcomes, the following aspects of our curriculum and teaching methodology are important to know:
We use an immersion approach towards teaching (depending on the teacher and the kids, usually between 50-100% of classroom language is in the target language). This means that students learn a lot “indirectly.” For example, we might not ever “drill” the verbs “sit down” or “stand up” but because those words are used every day several times a day during class, kids just learn them naturally. Just as with a young infant or toddler learning a first language, there will be core words and phrases which we’ll expect kids to start picking up, some during the first class, others in a six-week session, and much, much more if they enroll in classes on an ongoing basis.
We use creative repetition. Language, like so much of learning, is about repetition. As parents, you might notice your child asking the same question over and over as if he/she has forgotten your answer, or maybe to make sure your answer is still the same, or maybe to test your answer against other new information he or she has acquired since the last time you answered the question. “Are we there yet?” We take advantage of this natural inclination of kids to themselves use and feel comfort hearing the same words/sentences over and over. As an example, our teachers will always have the kids say, “Puedo ir al bano?” in Spanish to go to the bathroom or “Puedo tomar agua” to ask if they can drink water!
We have a very structured (numbered) curriculum which the teachers work off from week to week, progressing up with new words after the point they left off at last week and reviewing the words/phrases from before that number in the curriculum. If we are in a later session, new kids can join easily because instead of learning duck (#1) and goose (#2), they might learn, for example, leopard (#51) and porcupine (#52).
In measuring outcomes, note:
Our primary goal is to make kids excited and happy about learning another language. Giving them the confidence and love for learning other languages during early childhood is a gift, regardless of the specific number of words or sentences learned.
Comprehension will come well in advance of the ability to speak. In the two younger age groups (baby/toddlers and preschoolers), parents will usually see for themselves how much their children are starting to understand in the target language. For the K-6 classes which are child only, parents are invited to visit and observe how kids are able to follow classroom direction and basic commands in the target language even as early as the first class but even more naturally and intuitively as several weeks pass.
Kids in the K-6 age group who are more competitive or who love achieving concrete milestones in learning age group have the (completely optional) opportunity to “test” their skills and visibly show off their language achievements by earning wristbands. Click here to read more about our The Purple School wristbands. We’ve seen that about 25-50% of a class will be interested in testing for their first (red) wristband. Sometimes only one or two are initially interested and then as the year goes on and others see their classmates earning wristbands, they will ask to be tested, too. If interested, we encourage kids to test for their first wristband in the Animals category. They can also test in categories like the body and colors as well. If interested, students (assuming some home study) are usually prepared to test successfully for a red wristband at the end of 12 classes.
Again, our primary goal is to keep kids interested in learning. They will naturally absorb sounds, words, and phrases and they develop confidence joining our classes for any length of time. As with anything, the more and longer they join, the more they will develop in those areas. Some parents choose to supplement with videos/movies in other languages, a tutor (see FAQ at http://thepurpleschool.com/FAQs/Tutors.htm), and/or play dates with families and children who speak the target language. Note that because we are newer to North Dakota, I have been running some discounts on private tutoring. We do try to get someone other than the teacher a child has for class though.