I was no different than any other eager six-year old girl when I walked into class on my first day of first grade. Except that in my classroom, the teacher spoke only French, the kids were all French, and I was the only American.
Over the summer, my father, Dr. Paul Pimsleur, who created the groundbreaking Pimsleur Method language learning system, had moved our family to Paris to teach at the Sorbonne. My brother and I were enrolled in a local public school though we spoke only a few words of French. Within three months we became perfectly bilingual – it was a matter of survival!
This early immersion experience, and the two years we lived in Paris, changed my life forever. Speaking French fluently was the greatest gift my parents ever gave me; it provided me with an advantage in school and paved the way for scholarships and jobs.
Years later, it was this ease of learning that I wanted to recreate when I came up with Little Pim. Our in-home immersion language teaching method is designed to introduce young kids to a second, or even third language, before the age of six. Both of my children have used it (and star in the videos!) and so have millions of kids around the world.
|Little Pim Spanish flash cards, books, and plush|
Our goal at Little Pim was, and is, ambitious: to change the way young children learn languages. As a mother, filmmaker, and daughter of a language teaching pioneer, I wanted to create the first program that was effective and fun, specifically designed for young children. I spent more than two years perfecting our Entertainment Immersion Method®, working with a leading neuroscientist, educators, and language experts. The method teaches children their first 500 words in a second language, and makes learning a new language easy. Children watch the core video series and the vocabulary they learn is reinforced through toe-tapping CDs, beautifully illustrated flash cards, easy to follow books, and interactive apps. Every aspect of the method is designed for use by parents who don’t already speak a second language, with phonetics and tips throughout.
The uber goal of Little Pim is to democratize language learning, thereby making learning another language accessible to all children. I realized that not all parents can afford expensive language classes or foreign-born nannies; but if millions of families can, and do, buy DVDs, why can’t they use that same screen time to teach their kids a second language? Little Pim was intentionally created as affordable and scalable digital content, costing about the same as any entertainment DVD. All the content is available online at iTunes, Amazon, and the LeapFrog app store, and is free at the public library.
Foreign language instruction isn’t mandatory in U.S. public schools, which puts our kids at a disadvantage on the global stage. At Little Pim we are getting kids started on their language learning journey as early as possible, since research shows that’s when kids learn best. And, as I experienced way back in Paris, it’s when they learn most effortlessly, too.
Julia Pimsleur is the CEO of Little Pim, the leading language teaching method for children. Little Pim has won over 25 awards, has sold more than 1.5 million products, and is now in 11 languages, including Chinese, Arabic and Russian, with Hindi slated for release in 2013. The series is the most comprehensive and fun way for young children to start learning a second or third language. LittlePim.com