Fun with Languages
Fun with languages is an initiative that started in 2012 as a collaborative project between Valerie Hendley, director of International Language Center (ILC) and Dr.Thérèse Saint Paul, French professor at Murray State University. Through a generous grant from Regional Outreach of Murray State University, Valerie Hendley developed a program that has reached over 600 students throughout 10 counties and has successfully recruited local high school students to continue language learning at a collegiate level, through Murray State University Racer Academy.
The Fun with Languages method, which follows the practice of "HEAR IT, REPEAT IT, SAY IT" (HRS), places the emphasis on early oral repetition and follows three major principles:
Acquiring native-like pronunciation
Researchers have concluded that a young child learning a second language is more likely to obtain native-like pronunciation than adult language learners (Mayberry and Lock 2003; Flege, Mackay, and Piske 2002)
Learning a variety of sounds through play
The FWL/HRS method emphasizes the practice of a variety of sounds through play. Younger learners "are likely to be less language anxious than many older learners and hence may be more able to absorb language rather than block it out" (Johnstone 2002). In the FWL/HRS method, the facilitator stresses the foreign language sounds when speaking to the children. Since the ludic element eliminates language anxiety, children are asked to switch gender voices, repeat a word in a burly man's voice, or a tiny mouse's voice, or with the roar of a lion, for instance, which allows the learners to experiment with many sounds.
Making cognitive connections
In the FWL/HRS method, a child understands quickly that one concept, e.g. bear in English, can be expressed with different sounds such as ours in French, oso in Spanish, (xiong, rising tone) in Chinese, kuma in Japanese, Bär in German. From a semantic point of view, when a child realizes that the relationship between names for the same object in different languages is arbitrary, he or she begins seeing how languages relate to each other and abstract thinking can become easier. It is well established that early language learners are more creative and better problem solvers than students who do not study a second language (Stewart 2005; Landry 1974; Marcos 2001; Weatherford 1986).
Through its ludic, kinetic HRS method that engages all skills, Fun with Languages activates the process that enhances the development of the child as a whole. Children will not only aquire a new language, but also develop new pathways in cognitive thinking that allows for more creative and abstract thought.
During the one-hour lesson the learner manipulates vocabulary and learns to use it in a hands-on/active discovery setting. The facilitators are chosen from advanced language students or native speakers with a background in early childhood or elementary education, although this is not a requirement. Students receive materials and training in the method but are primarily selected for their personality, such as their ability to create an engaging learning environment. You will find FWL clubs in Calloway, Graves and McCracken counties.