The impact of learning French through immersion, and why any child can become bilingual

On our site and throughout the internet, you will find lots of articles and scientific studies on the many cognitive advantages of acquiring a second language.

In this blog, I will speak from my experience of over 25 years as a teacher and as the founder of Club Petit Pierrot.

First of all and for those who know me, it is no secret that I am extremely passionate about language learning and I am also good fun! Not only do I think that this is essential to love what you do in order to do it properly, but I am also convinced that children need to have fun, to play and to experiment in order to learn. Teaching and learning should be an enjoyable experience for both teacher and pupil!

You will also know that I take the responsibility of teaching children very seriously indeed and expect the same from my team. It is possible to get results without putting any pressure on the children whatsoever. Teaching entirely through immersion, requires personality, passion and hard work. Teaching young children requires a teacher to be nurturing, patient at all times, benevolent and aware of the children’s well-being.

In my view learning through immersion is the answer to achieving fluency in French or any language for that matter. After all most of us learned a second language by translating and learning long lists of vocabulary by heart, which is still the way it is taught in many schools. However using carefully designed immersion programmes and by creating the right environment where children can learn while enjoying themselves, repetition happens naturally, children learn effortlessly and ultimately will enjoy communicating in the target language.

Learning in this manner means that what is learned is truly absorbed, understood, eventually re-used in the right context and will be remembered. This is the same process whereby the child learned their mother tongue! Children do not realise they are learning a second language but just absorb it.

Let me give you a recent example: A mother send me an email this summer saying: “We are in Brittany and it was so lovely to see the delight on my son’s face this morning as he ordered things in a bakery!” The little boy is 5 years old and follows our programme at school, but only for half an hour per week! Not only is he confident enough to speak out loud to order food in a French bakery, but he is feeling proud about it!

Not all children will learn at the same pace and learning a second language takes time and practise. Nevertheless if a child is taught French in the right environment with the right teaching methods, and this is done regularly throughout their childhood, you can expect that child to become extremely proficient!

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