WHAT IS LANGUAGE IMMERSION PEDAGOGY?
Language immersion uses language as a tool for learning - not as the object or goal
Language immersion pedagogy is a highly effective method of teaching a foreign language, which can be used to achieve functional bilingualism. The method originated in Canada, where it has been used since the 1960s. Worldwide, the most common form of language immersion is early language immersion, which usually starts in early childhood education and continues until at least the end of primary education.
In early language immersion, all activities and teaching take place in the chosen language. Early language immersion can also be partial, with some activities and teaching in the language of immersion from the start and some in the official language of the country.
At Espoo Englanninkielinen Leikkikoulu, we implement early partial language immersion pedagogy. The staff in our kindergartens mainly use English with the children. The staff also understand Finnish and use it as a support for English. This is particularly important in situations where it is important that the child understands in detail what is being said; for example, when we are explaining children's conflicts, or comforting a child.
This has a direct impact on children's sense of security and makes it easier to sort things out, as we can communicate in a language that the child understands well when necessary.
The language of play and communication between children in our kindergarten is mainly Finnish. Children learn to switch fluently from one language to another, depending on whether they are talking to adults or children.
We do not teach English, but the children learn the language through conversations, stories, tales, songs and games. In this way, the child learns the language in a way that is natural and meaningful to them; in everyday situations, in the same way they learn their native language. In the beginning, children learn individual words and phrases that are used in everyday situations in kindergarten. Pictures, gestures, and facial expressions support speech comprehension.
For example, on the swing we encourage them to ask for a boost by saying "push please" in English instead of in Finnish, same goes in the toilet where we use pictures to ask for a hand wash "wash your hands please" and when it is clean up time we show the movement of putting away toys "tidy up time".
Little by little, language skills begin to develop and usually by pre-school age, children can understand English speech with ease and produce complete sentences on their own.
Our kindergartens actively use a wide range of materials to support language learning. Picture books, texts and pictures on the walls, board games and puzzles, children's music, and digital learning programmes in English that invigorate and enrich language learning. Our learning environments have visual cues and prompts that encourage the learning of new words.
In addition to language learning, in our kindergartens, we explore the cultures of English-speaking countries and celebrate their holidays, such as Halloween, St. Patrick´s Day, Thanksgiving and Valentine´s Day. We also celebrate holidays related to Finnish cultures such as Kalevala Day, May Day, Independence Day and Christmas. We also consider the cultural celebrations of our client's families and our staff.
child starts in our kindergarten at the age of 3 to 5 years old, by which time
his/her native language has developed to a sufficient level of proficiency. The
home plays a significant role in supporting the child's native language. We,
therefore, recommend to our families that they use only the child's native
language in their free time and that they talk and read a lot to the child in
his/her native language.