FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why is it good to start learning a foreign language at an early age? Isn't it more likely to cause problems?
Naturally, we can learn a language at any age, yet the quality, together with effort and energy needed, differs. From a psychological point of view, the fact that at that age, it is a completely unforced and a natural process, providing our children with a great advantage in their future lives, is an undisputable advantage. It has been proven that, from the point of view of language competences, the period between 2 and 8 years of age is the most significant one. From the age of approx.18 months, a child is programmed to acquire a language.
Concerning language competences, this development period is unique. Psychological predispositions for learning at an early age chiefly include: Extreme sensitivity to both common and specific language stimuli, a child's spontaneity, minimum social inhibitions, nervous system flexibility, exceptional imitation abilities, high level of memory development with prevalence of mechanical memory unit, ability of auditory differentiation, etc. At that age, children learn involuntarily, by listening, imitating, and repeating; they use the method of attempt-failure, testing words they do not understand. Children are thus naturally able to catch proper pronunciation, intonation, and rhythm of a foreign language.
Research shows that compared to their peers who speak one language, small children that learn another language before they are five, tend to be better at reading and writing in their first language, having better analytic and social skills, as well as broader vocabulary.
At that age, anything new the children learn makes them happy. Remember how they like to show off with what they can do. By praising and awarding them, we build their self-confidence and develop their will to learn more and more.
Will the acquiring of another language not affect thier mother tongue? Can it confuse the child?
A small child is very sensitive to perceive things and happenings around them. If the child is exposed to the mother tongue, he or she learns it; when exposed to English, he or she acquires it quite readily. As an example, we can have a look at children of bilingual couples. Such children are not confused; they learn both languages fluently.
However, an essential rule for proper language development in children must be respected: "one person, one language" (Grammont's rule). Children are very good at distinguishing who to speak to with a given language; they can fluently shift between their perception and thinking from one system to another. Just like their behaviour differs when they are with their mother, for example and their grandmother.
In addition, the teaching is not aimed only at making children speak, but also at making them understand a foreign language. Even if they do not speak, toddlers understand many words. Before 2 years of age, children know 300 words, understanding one thousand. Children also realise that each word has its equivalent in a foreign language, which supports the development of cognitive competences.
Is even a single lesson a week of any benefit to the child? Is it not too little?
Naturally, the more the better. A bilingual family or kindergarten is ideal. Yet not everyone can or would like to use such possibilities. Even a single lesson a week is of benefit, because a small child is responsive to learning all week long. If the lessons are of good quality, there is no risk of forgetting everything and having to learn the same things all over again. In between individual lessons, parents may use various aids (showing children's films in English, English songs, etc.). Children thus involuntarily perceive the different rhythm of a foreign language, different sound patterns and differences between words, acquiring better accent.
How is professional qualification of teachers provided?
We select native English speakers very carefully. They must meet all predispositions for working with children and have a university degree. The selection procedure consists of several selection levels; only the best and most competent candidates are chosen. Selected native English speakers then undergo intensive training led by Wattsenglish methodology specialists. Throughout the year, Wattsenglish Director, Steve Watts, supervises their work, preparing further regular training sessions and workshops. Individual courses are video-recorded for parents to see the method of teaching and view their child's progress.
How do I find out what has my child learned?
This is a question posed by most parents. Many of them want to know if the child had an English lesson that day, and to know what he or she learnt, looking for results. However, most of the time, children do not necessarily know. They sometimes reply: Nothing, we just played games. Yet the moment the child hears a native English speaker on the Internet (for example), he or she immediately reacts in English. Children create a speech system, and English becomes their means of communication. Children do not know language theory; they often cannot translate individual words. For them, English is a means of communicating with their teacher (an English speaker). They often do not feel the need to use English to communicate with their parents as this would feel un-natural. It is more natural for them to use English only when communicating with their teacher, or other character to whichthey associate the language.
Each Wattsenglish teacher has his or her own web presentation, including teaching videos, intended for children-parent work. Based on children's reaction, parents can see what the children have learnt in their English lessons. Parents regularly obtain passwords to watch video recordings of lessons on our portal. The videos are recorded by our methodology specialists; they are extremely popular with both children and parents.