Service Learning in Early Childhood Foreign Language Acquisition: Activities Created and Implemented in a Pedagogical Partnership
There is no question as to the value of undertaking the study of a foreign language at as early an age as possible. Small children have an amazing capacity for imitating sounds perfectly without imposing the analytical study that often encumbers the efforts of the older student of a foreign language. This early experience with another language helps the youngest of learners to train their minds to think on different levels as well as to instil in them a love of language through the experiencing of it through meaningful play. Moreover, they learn early on that cultural and linguistic diversity is desirable and fun! With this in mind, another educator and myself implemented a partnership bilingual program for early language acquisition in the fall of 2001, between the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Southeastern Louisiana University and the Southeastern Louisiana University Head Start, an institution which serves some 140 children yearly, between the ages of 3-5, 90% of whom hail from families whose annual income falls below poverty level. This program, which is an ongoing venture, has been well-received by both the younger students and the Spanish language service learners whom we mentor and with whom we team teach. This presentation, which will follow my colleague's presentation on rationale, methodology and results achieved in the project, will highlight activities used in the project. We worked primarily through TPR activities and songs with interactive actions as well as with some flannel board activities to help the youngsters acquire some basic vocabulary focussing primarily on amenities, colors, numbers, shapes, body parts, animal names, specialized vocabulary associated with holidays, and some basic commands. Our student service learners were involved in the creation of these activities as well as their implementation in their respective classrooms. I will describe and give a demonstration of some of these activities. Handouts will be provided as well.
Keywords: Pedagogy, Service Learning, Pre-School, Foreign Languages, Spanish Language
Ms Marta C. Gumpert
Instructor of Spanish, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Southeastern Louisiana University