Remember when I said I had a few review posts this month? I don’t plan to make a habit of doing so many, and this is my last for the foreseeable future, but I just could not resist the great opportunities that came up recently. Hopefully the products I’ve been sharing do spark an interest for many of you. If you missed the other two, you can look back at my post on Kids Yoga Stories and Montessori Services from last week.
Now, onto Little Pim: If you’ve been around here long, you know I’m passionate about exposing children to different cultures, ideas, and languages. Unfortunately, I haven’t been as diligent about exposing Annabelle to Spanish, or any second language, as I had hoped and dreamed that I would. This has been bothering more and more and she gets older. I’d been mulling over plans for adding a bit of Spanish to our days again when I was contacted by Little Pim, a company that has created a wonderful series of books, cds, and dvds designed to introduce children to a second (or third, or fourth) language. The timing was too perfect, so I agreed to give some of their products a try.
About Little Pim
Little Pim was developed by Julia Pimsleur Levine, who was inspired by her own upbringing as a bilingual child. Her father, Dr. Paul Pimsleur, was an expert in applied linguistics and a professor at UCLA who applied his research, relating to memory and language acquisition, to the development of the Pimsleur Language Learning Method. Julia Pimsleur Levine worked with neuroscientist Dr. April Benasich to create a program that combines the latest research on brain development with what we understand today about children’s language learning.
Little Pim’s award winning programs are geared toward children ages 0-6 and are available for a number of major languages. A large part of the program is the Little Pim DVDs, which feature five minute episodes focused on different vocabulary sets. As regular readers know, our family is pretty far to one side of the screen time spectrum, and we don’t have a tv or offer many videos, so I passed on the dvd portion of the program and chose to focus on the books and music cd. Knowing now that the episodes are only five minutes long, I’m thinking the dvds would be a great tool for giving Annabelle the opportunity to hear a native speaker, so I may invest in a dvd or two in the future, but for now I’m very happy with the non-DVD resources.
We ended up receiving the book Feelings, which includes phrases in both Spanish and French, and the Spanish Bop Music CD. Annabelle loves them both. The book has gotten very heavy use every day since it arrived. She has already memorized it, and it’s one of the few books that she’ll read aloud to herself when I’m busy with something else. While the entire program centers around “Little Pim,” a panda, the book includes real photos of children whose faces depict different emotions. The text of the book offers the same statements in both Spanish and French, describing what each child is feeling, in the context of a storyline written in English.
In my language studies, I think I’ve developed a bias toward the immersion method, so it took me a bit of time to warm up to the Little Pim book. So much was written in English and I worried that this represented a lost opportunity to practice even more. Watching my child enjoy the book and later repeat the phrases it focuses on correctly proved the benefits of the Little Pim program for me, however, and I enjoyed some reading on other methods of language instruction. The illustrations themselves are a wonderful tool, too, and there’s really no reason you can’t add more Spanish or French as you read if your child is ready and you’re comfortable enough in the language. Of course a great benefit of introducing only a small amount of vocabulary at first is that it allows for far better contextual clues, and is not overwhelming for parents introducing a second language they’re not well-versed in themselves. For the child, it keeps things playful and clear – not intimidating. I have a number of children’s books that are written entirely in other languages, and there are several that I don’t like to read because I stumble over the text. It works out, because Annabelle doesn’t like to sit and listen to them either. It’s difficult to read in an engaging, expressive way when you’re translating in your head as you go along, and I think children can sometimes tune out when too much new information comes at them at once.
I read the book in Spanish (with some English) only, but I love that it has the French option. I studied French as well, so I know enough to work on the phrases in the Little Pim books with Annabelle later on, if she should ever seem interested, but for now we’re focusing on Spanish.
The CD is fantastic. It’s a good mix of traditional and silly and is absolutely tolerable for adults, too. The booklet included with the packaging includes the lyrics for each song, which allows me to make sure I sing the songs correctly – something I appreciate very much!
Every single day after it arrived, the first thing I heard in the morning was, “Mom, would you please turn on Little Pim?” When we left to go somewhere, Annabelle would ask me to bring the CD along, and the moment I parked in our driveway, she would remind me to bring it back inside. To my surprise, she has also been singing the songs aloud when the CD isn’t playing, so she is definitely picking things up from it.
Best of all, having Spanish music on and reading together in Spanish has me more focused on the goal of practicing the language at home. Because I’m hearing so much Spanish, I’m also thinking in Spanish, which means that I’m speaking it spontaneously – and Annabelle is definitely learning! Heck, I am, too.
If you’d like to introduce a new language at home, but you’re not sure where to start, the Little Pim program is a great option. You can go all out and buy a complete set of books, DVDs, and cards, or you can start with one book or CD and see how it goes. Opening the world to your child through language is always a worthwhile pursuit.
Little Pim books, CDs, cards, and DVDs are all available on their website. The book Feelings retails at $8.95 and the Spanish Bop CD is $14.95. Visit littlepim.com to see their full range of products and languages. I would love, eventually, to use their materials for Russian as well. All in due time!
Little Pim is offering a book and a music CD in either French or Spanish to one winner with a US mailing address. Just enter using the rafflecopter widget below and I’ll contact you at the email address you provide if you win. Winners will also be announced on the facebook page.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary book and CD from Little Pim for the purpose of this review. No
other compensation was offered, and I was not obligated to write a positive review. All opinions
are my own. I do my best to share only products I feel especially good about, and that I think may
enrich your life as they have mine