Language Beans, a research-based program designed to teach young children Mandarin and music, uses language lessons to facilitate a child's musical development. Starting lessons at a young age ensures children will pick up on the language easily.
Language Beans, a sister school to Music Beans, is a research-based program designed to teach young children both Mandarin and music with its Fun with Mandarin class, which started in February 2012. The program has four locations throughout Manhattan, including Little Italy/Chinatown, Battery Park City, the Financial District, and the Lower East Side.
Founder Yu-Chen (Mimi) Lin is a specialist in early childhood music and multi-culture education. She grew up speaking Mandarin, Taiwanese, and English, believes that providing a culturally diverse environment to young kids is critical in connecting them to the global world and promoting cross-cultural understanding, and wrote a dissertation about the concept at Penn State.
Language Beans uses language lessons to facilitate a child’s musical development, and vice versa. It’s often difficult to differentiate whether a baby is speaking or singing, Lin says, and research studies show that this is because when kids are really young, their music and language development is blended. Language Beans capitalizes on this and uses musical games, repetition, and other forms of play to encourage kids to learn Mandarin.
Starting young also insures children will pick up on certain basic tenets more easily than if they began to learn the language at an older age. “Research shows that kids need to be exposed to certain sounds at an early age, otherwise they won’t be able to learn certain words later,” Lin says. “Also, exposing kids to a foreign language early allows them to feel comfortable with the words and the culture.”
The classes, which are filled with games, are good for parent-child interactions, Lin says, and the lessons are simple enough that parents can learn the language too. The program welcomes people from all different cultural backgrounds, and it is not necessary to have previous experience speaking Mandarin.