What role does English have at the school?
English is ever present at Jardin des Soleils. The school is bilingual French/English: in each class there is a native French and native English-speaking educator. Each one speaks to the children in their native tongue. In this manner the children learn via immersion in a fun and natural way, with very little translation. They quickly become used to the fact that one of the teachers speaks to them in English and pick up familiar vocabulary quite rapidly.
Gifted for fuelling the children’s enthusiasm, the English educators also use specific material and fun activities with the children individually or in small groups. They sing and gesture with the children which is always very popular.
The school welcomes children of various nationalities and cultures, which is also a wonderful way for the students to hear different languages and take notice of cultural diversity. It spurs their curiosity and opens their minds to differences, preparing them to take their place as citizens of the world.
Why learn English before six years old?
Before a child turns six, he learns by absorbing what is around him, without mentally analysing it. This rich way of learning will not reappear after the child has outgrown this phase. He will always be able to learn, but it will require more effort and the result will never be the same.
The best period to learn a language is therefore in the earliest years of childhood, as the child will use the same method he does to learn his native language to absorb the syntax, the accent and the musicality of the second language.
The ability to learn a language depends on the listener’s ear. Native French speakers have a disadvantage as the French language is composed of frequencies from 1000 to 2000Hz, while the English language is made up of frequencies between 2000 and 4000Hz. This explains the difficulty some native French speakers encounter when learning a second language, and the facility with which Germans and Russians seem to learn other languages: their native languages are made up of a wider expanse of frequencies.
Hearing a larger expanse of frequencies is beneficial for the child’s musical ear as well. Studies have also shown that auditive capacity can have an impact on intelligence and communication (Dr. Tomatis)