Little Pim is the brainchild of Julia Pimsleur Levine, an award winning documentary filmmaker who, as the mother of two, wanted to create a top quality, fun language-teaching DVDs for babies and young children. Julia was inspired by her own bilingual childhood: she is the daughter of Dr. Paul Pimsleur, who pioneered the international best-selling foreign language audio teaching method. In determining how best to approach creating effective materials for kids, she immersed herself in the latest scientific research regarding language acquisition and brain development, worked with leading neuroscientist Dr. April Benasich, and drew from her own experience as a language teacher, filmmaker and mother. Read on to learn about the method she created.
The Little Pim series uses the Entertainment Immersion Method™, which engages a child’s natural love of play, watching real kids and learning through repetition. Children get very attached to the lovable cartoon panda bear, Little Pim, who is the series “teacher.” He invites young viewers to join him in his playful antics as they learn the language along real children enjoying everyday activities, such as playing, eating, waking and napping.
The entire DVD is spoken by native speakers, and words are presented and repeated at regular intervals. Each Little Pim DVD focuses on sixty words and phrases typically acquired in a toddler’s primary language, providing the essential building blocks for language acquisition.
Little Pim DVDs are designed and paced for developing minds. Young children respond enthusiastically to Little Pim’s format, a combination of animation and live action. Babies respond to black and white, therefore the panda captures the attention of even the youngest viewers. Each 35-minute DVD is segmented into seven 5-minute episodes to accommodate a young child’s attention span and encourage pausing for parent interaction. Simple sentences are broken down into easy-to-understand parts, and reinforced through repetition.
We encourage you to watch Little Pim with your little one and repeat the words together – it’s fun for kids and adults! The more you interact with the language, the easier the lessons become and the more your child will learn. You do not need to know the language your child is learning to watch with them; we have provided optional English subtitles (select SUBTITLES in the start up menu) so you can easily follow along.
Why Starting Early is Key
The most current scientific research has proven that babies, toddlers and preschoolers are uniquely equipped to learn one or more languages with ease.
Research also proves that young children who learn a language before the age of five tend to have superior reading, writing, analytical and social skills, as well as more extensive vocabularies than their monolingual peers. Early foreign language acquisition is no longer considered a luxury. It materially contributes to a young child’s cognitive development and also gives him an advantage in the future of our increasingly global marketplace.
Award-winning filmmaker (and mom) Julia Pimsleur Levine created Little Pim to fill a need in the children’s video market for a top-quality, language-learning DVD series for the very young. Working with a team of filmmakers, animators, childhood development experts, linguists and an advising neuroscientist, Julia invested three years to develop the most comprehensive language series designed specifically for this age group.
With Little Pim, parents can now take full advantage of their young child’s natural, yet brief, proclivity for learning languages.
Why Foreign Languages Are Good for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers
Between birth and five years of age, the human brain is hard-wired for learning multiple languages. After age five, this critical window begins to close and the effort to retain a new language increases exponentially.
Founded on clinical research in child development, neuroscience and linguistics, Little Pim is for families who want to take advantage of their young child’s fertile, yet brief, window for learning more than one language with ease.
The award-winning Little Pim series provides an interactive method with all the tools necessary for parents to become their child’s first language tutor even if the language is new to them too. By structuring and encouraging parent-child interaction, Little Pim’s unique method fosters maximum language learning.
Infancy and early childhood is the ideal time to immerse your child in a foreign language. Babies gain understanding long before they can speak and benefit from having a rich language environment. That is because babies learn to talk by listening. Research tells us that the more words babies hear, the faster they learn to talk. Frequent daily exposure to words and active social engagement helps the brain pathways that foster language learning to develop more fully.
“Babies and young children have incredible early learning skills and are uniquely equipped to learn the building blocks of one or more languages starting at birth,” said Dr. April Benasich, Little Pim Advisor and Director of the Infancy Studies Laboratory at the Center for Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers University. “The developing brain unconsciously tracks the sounds and contours of the languages that surround them, noting the patterns and the subtle differences between sounds. This is an ideal time to introduce foreign languages to kids and to encourage cross-linguistic learning.”
Babies and young children can differentiate between the sounds of any language in the world. Babies hear their mother’s voices before birth and know the rhythm of their native language as newborns. Once born, babies can understand and discriminate the sounds of every language in the world. The sound elements or building blocks of language are called phonemes, and repeated studies show that adults are not as attuned as babies in perceiving phonemes.
Why do young children have this language advantage? Humans needed language, as early as possible, to evolve. The sooner an early human could learn to talk, the greater his chance of survival. He could quickly respond to life-saving commands such as “Stop!” or “Run!” After language acquisition is set in motion, the brain devotes its energy to other things, and unused functions weaken.
Bilingual learners are flexible and may acquire two languages in the time in which monolinguals acquire one. According to a report published in Science Express, July 2009, children acquire their native language according to a well-defined time frame. Surprisingly, although children raised in bilingual environments have to learn roughly twice as much about language as their monolingual peers, the speed of acquisition is comparable in monolinguals and bilinguals. Here, we show that preverbal 12-month-old bilingual infants have become more flexible at learning speech structures than monolinguals. When given the opportunity to simultaneously learn two different regularities, bilingual infants learned both, whereas monolinguals learned only one of them. Hence, bilinguals may acquire two languages in the time in which monolinguals acquire one because they quickly become more flexible learners.
By five years of age, the early learning window begins to close. As they become attuned to their native language (or languages), children gradually lose the ability to tell the subtle sounds (phonemes) in foreign languages apart. Their innate ability gradually declines, and by five years of age, the most advantageous window of opportunity has begun to close. When people are introduced to new foreign sounds later in life, they can no longer hear the difference, thus making it much harder to imitate these sounds.
Early foreign language exposure enhances a child’s primary language development, and his or her brain power. Scientists continue to explore how a child acquires a language with speed and ease, but experts already agree to dismiss the idea that bilingualism can be confusing for a young child. “This idea was dramatically reversed in a landmark study by Elizabeth Peal and Wallace Lambert at McGill University in Montreal that showed a general superiority of bilinguals over monolinguals in a wide range of intelligence tests and aspects of school achievement,” said Dr. Ellen Bialystok, Professor of Psychology at York University, Canada.
Regarding this link between fluency and improved IQ, Dr. Andrea Mechelli of University College London published in Nature her team’s research that found “grey matter” density in scans of the left-brain was greater in bilinguals than in monolinguals. The brain’s left side is responsible for processing information and controlling aspects of sensory perception, memory and speech. Dr. Mechelli found this increase was most significant in children who had learned a foreign language before the age of five.
Little Pim’s method is modeled on how we naturally acquire language. Research shows that children learn best when their parents or caregiver actively play with them while naming items and actions in their daily life. The repetitive action of a child seeing an object, hearing the parent name it and then saying that name back to the parent is an essential part of a child’s primary language development. Little Pim’s DVDs are modeled on this natural way of learning. The award-winning Little Pim series provides an interactive method with all the tools necessary for parents to become their child’s first language tutor even if the language is new to them too. By structuring and encouraging parent-child interaction, Little Pim’s unique method fosters maximum language learning.