This month of October marks my 15th anniversary as a language entrepreneur. Back when I started, everybody thought I was crazy to put my Princeton University Ph.D. degree on hold to start a program to teach Spanish to young children.
Fifteen years ago, nobody in the U.S. cared about young children learning foreign languages.
In fact, many people thought that it was a BAD idea to teach young children a foreign language.
Believe It or Not, Early Language Education
Was Once the Villain of the Story
Doctors used to warn against teaching a second language to young children!
The common belief was that children would confuse the two languages. They would start speaking later, develop stuttering, dyslexia… any learning or developmental issue that the child would present would be immediately blamed on the additional language.
And even if the new language didn’t create the problem, it would definitely accentuate it.
Bilingual parents had the most to lose with these myths. I remember a couple from Argentina, who were advised by their doctor not to teach their twins Spanish because they had been born prematurely. The parents had come to regret their decision and enrolled their now two-year-old toddlers in one of my classes. (They learned both Spanish and English perfectly fine, by the way.)
So common were these cases in my classes that I decided to dig deeper and ask attendees in my workshops and conferences, “How many of you have received the recommendation not to speak your home language/another language to your kids?” Lots of hands went up.
In those times, you had to do a double job, teaching a language and educating the parents about the safety of learning languages.
As a result, we in the early foreign languages arena were the Cinderellas of education, always waiting for the Fairy Godmother, who would magically enlighten everyone once and forever.
Luckily for us, Science is now our Fairy Godmother.
Science Comes to the Rescue
The truth is that the science was there for a long time, but now scientists can look directly at the brain and see exactly what goes on when children (or adults) learn languages.
So what do scientists see?
Learning a new language not only doesn’t fry your child’s brain, but it is actually one of the best exercises for any brain.
Also, learning a new language is particularly excellent for young children, because the young brain is ideally suited to learning language.
Patricia Kuhl, co-director of the Institute for Brain and Learning Sciences at the University of Washington, studies how we learn language as babies, looking at the ways our brains form around language acquisition. In this TED Talk, she shares her astonishing findings about how babies learn language.
Scientists and educators have observed that learning a new language gives your child a whole range of advantages, including:
- Improved attention capacity
- Greater ability to switch between tasks
- Better ability to adjust to environmental changes
- Improved tests scores in math and their primary language
If you would like to learn more about the science behind learning languages, I have a collection of articles and books on my Bilingual Research Pinterest board.
The story has come full circle.
Nobody laughs at us anymore!
With the wave of a magic wand, we became Princess Cinderella.
Now Everybody Wants to Come to the Ball…
But the Ball Is Sold Out!
Now that parents realize the advantages of learning another language for their children, they are scrambling to find immersion programs to enroll them in.
But there’s an incredible scarcity of quality language instruction. Public schools have been defunding or even cutting their language education altogether.
And since nobody believed in teaching languages in the preschool and elementary school years, nobody invested in independent programs either.
As a consequence, the few independent early immersion programs that do exist today are full. Their wait lists are long.
This Has Created a NEW Opportunity…
The great news is, this scarcity presents an opportunity for new entrepreneurs who want to teach languages to young children.
We now have a ready audience clamoring for our services, with very little competition!
As an expert in this field, I have never seen a niche with such exciting potential.
If you are ready to make that step and open your own immersion program, there is no better time to start than now.
But here is the thing…
Teaching languages to young children requires sophisticated knowledge and technique that you can’t acquire in a few days. (Psst: Showing flashcards won’t do it. That’s not teaching a language. That’s just teaching a bunch of words.)
And that’s just the beginning. Creating a successful business doing it is a challenge in itself.
This is precisely what I have been helping people do during the last few years…
I have been helping passionate mom-entrepreneurs start their own language immersion programs.
I Want to Help You Get Started in This Niche!
A few years after I opened my language program, I had to close it for personal reasons. With the birth of my youngest daughter Marina, a special child with many medical needs, I switched the focus of my business to helping other entrepreneurs pursue their dreams while I took care of my daughter at home.
What I learned in my years running my program, and even being an educated, bilingual mom, was that it takes a lot more than command of the language to be able to teach it to young children.
And that’s where many programs make a crucial mistake. Their only requirement for teachers is that they speak the language. But those people have never been taught how to teach languages!
In fact, it’s incredibly difficult to find any training in how to teach languages to young children. It’s hard to find practical instruction — whether from university courses or books — that specialize in this field.
And that’s what makes my curriculum and training unique.
Introducing the Ana Lomba Mpressarias®
Curriculum and Training
If you are interested in starting a new program, I am very close to launching my new curriculum, which contains everything you need to start teaching.
It’s both a teaching guide and a series of lesson plans and activities. It will not only help you get started teaching, but facilitate the growth of your program.
We will also offer our new Language Entrepreneur Lab e-training course for aspiring language entrepreneurs starting in January 2015.
We’ll be sending you an update on both of these very soon. Sign up here to be notified when it launches.
But First I Need Your Help…
This is the first time offering something like this, and we want to get as much feedback from you as possible.
Can you answer these 5 questions? It should not take longer than 5 minutes but of course you can spend as much time as you want.
Stay tuned for more!
Ana Lomba is changing the way people think about and interact with young children learning languages. Her Parents’ Choice award-winning books, teaching guides, lively songs, games, stories, and mobile applications are quickly becoming favorites with teachers and parents who want to nurture young children’ inborn language abilities. Key to the success of Ana’s break-through method is a focus on the family as the ideal environment for early language learning – even her signature curriculum for language programs is built with parents in mind. Ana has taught toddler, preschool, elementary school, and college-level Spanish courses, and held leadership positions with some of the most influential language organizations in the US, including ACTFL, NNELL and FLENJ. After graduating with a law degree from Spain, her native country, Ana pursued graduate studies at Binghamton University, Princeton University, and NYU. She lives with her husband and three children in Princeton Jct., NJ.
Braden Bills says
It’s interesting to think that children in preschool can start learning a new language. I actually remember hearing that it’s best to start teaching a child a language when they are young and still developing! That way it will stick with them longer, and they will have an easier time learning it in the future.