Can young children who can barely speak their own language yet really start learning another one? I wasn’t sure that they could, but then I went along to a Petits Amis class and changed my mind.
Children across York have been learning French and Spanish at Little Fidgets language lessons for a few years now. They’re incredibly popular, and it’s easy to see why. I took our biggest Viking (almost four) along to a French lesson last week to see it in action. The class structure has been cleverly designed for young children who won’t sit still and can’t concentrate for very long – it’s called Little Fidgets for a reason. There’s no time for them to get bored or frustrated as the class moves swiftly and seamlessly through a series of fun activities like playing shop, pretending to drive around a town and hide-and-seek, all with a healthy dose of French thrown in. There was even time for a snack and a spot of crafting (we took home our own googly-eyed spider or araignée).
Pierrine, our teacher for the morning, is engaging, warm and encouraging. She uses a mixture of English and French so that everyone can understand what she’s saying. She also knows how to handle the shyest and most reluctant of pupils. Our biggest Viking was a bit worried about being new to the class and knowing no French, but by the end of it Pierrine managed to coax a ‘merci’ from him (and he’s been talking about the class ever since). I was really impressed by how much the other children knew – they counted and sang in French beautifully and were clearly enjoying themselves too. Before long they’ll feel confident enough to hold a short conversation – a good excuse to book a nice holiday to France, if you ever needed one. Petits Amis classes are a fantastic way to get children into learning another language from an early age (and, speaking for myself, not a bad way for parents to brush up on their rusty skills either!).
York Petits Amis and York Little Amigos run French and Spanish classes for children aged from two to four years old, and from five onwards – See the Petits Amis website for more information.