It’s not about the kids, it’s about you! These songs are performed by rock stars, yes you hear it, rock stars singing nursery songs. Pearl Jam, Cold Play, Alanis Morrisett.
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All the characteristics modulations of languages are best acquired at a young age, preferably under the age of 7 years. If you are already interested to have your child speak more than 1 langauge, then do not postpone his language development such as to replace it with music and sports. Even if the child does not use the language at all in adulthood, the training of movement for spoken language will condition the nerves such as to help overcome imperfections characteristics of the speech of a foreigner.
It is not a matter of interest as it is a matter of growth and development, and speech skill is one of them. If the child is not ready to learn more than one language, he should be exposed to listening to songs and nursery rhymes in a foreign language. There are also food items around the house which are named in English, like taco, tortilla, curry or kuah bao; and in a normal household, food items with foreign names are commonly stored these days. As often as possible, pronounce these foreign names in the exact way a foreign native would to stimulate the auditory and motor channels of spoken languages. It is a gift which we can all afford to give to a child.
Often I see kids choosing their favourite language when watching kiddie channels like Cartoon Network. It is very hard to make them choose something other than their native tongue (or preferred tongue). So in India I notice kids like to watch in Hindi even if they know some English. How does one motivate kids to watch in a new language?
Cartoons are supposedly images of characters that come out of one’s imaginations. They are highly regarded by kids because there are both movement and fantasy. Language which comes with it helps to comprehend those movement and fantasies. So if you use foreign language, it is mentally challenging for them to comprehend the stories and also the meaning of the foreign language.
What works for me is to use real situations, not imaginations, presented to them in concrete manner. Real people or things they can immediately relate to is always the best. Hi-5 or the Wiggles are example of children programmes which are not cartoons. When a story is presented to them in a foreign language, it is best to give them the facts (weather, family, animals) before the language.
When it comes to cartoon, they will surely gravitate towards listening or watching it in their native tongue.
Another way to isolate them from the community which are predominantly native; but this may defeat the social purpose of learning language. Like all adults, we tend to gravitate towards using a foreign language for some activities and native for others. Kids are on a path to self-discovery. They will prefer to use their mother tongue for stories they have to imagine.