Language lessons bridge the generations

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A new intergenerational scheme has launched, helping young children and elderly people to learn languages together.

The new programme, run by children’s language learning franchise Kidslingo, is called Kidslingo Together and sees care home residents and young children learn French or Spanish in shared sessions.

Kidslingo Together aims to improve emotional and physical wellbeing for all age groups involved and encourage interaction between generations through language lessons, which involve a mixture of music, games, Makaton, role-play, drama and storytelling.

The sessions, which last between 30 and 45 minutes, run weekly or monthly within care homes.

After a pilot project at the end of last year, which involved language lessons taking place in Scotland, Blackpool and Kent, the scheme is now launching nationwide, with lessons introduced in four different ways:

  • adding a new activity to existing intergenerational sessions run by nurseries and care homes;
  • introducing nurseries and care homes to each other to establish new intergenerational relationships;
  • establishing intergenerational language sessions with childminders or home education groups, and;
  • establishing intergenerational language sessions with families.

anna-neville-kidslingoKidslingo founder and chief executive Anna Neville (pictured) said, ‘Existing schemes within nurseries and care homes were running well but sometimes they needed a focused activity rather than just playing and talking. We also wanted to provide the residents with a learning process to make it a positive experience for them with dignity.

‘The benefits to both younger and older participants are so huge it seemed like a no-brainer to fit the sessions in to a structured programme.’

Ms Neville highlighted research on the positive effects of language learning across the generations.

‘Not only is there a huge amount of evidence to show that learning a new language can stave off the onset of dementia, it’s even been documented that social interaction can lower disease among the elderly,’ she said.

‘It’s not just the older generations who reap the benefits of the scheme. The children love hearing about the victories and adventures of the older generations and the classes introduce them to a learning environment they might not usually experience. They’re also encouraged to be more patient and open minded, which are key life skills.’

Ms Neville said she would also like to hold intergenerational ‘family days’ based on Kidslingo Together sessions.

‘I am also really hoping that grandparents and grandchildren might be able to use the sessions together,’ she added. ‘I think that would be a really lovely initiative.’ 

Katya, a mother who attends Kidslingo Together sessions at the Emily Jackson care home in Sevenoaks with her children, aged three and one, said, ‘The Spanish classes at our local care home offer something unique and rewarding for everyone. The kids love seeing the older generation and having someone else to perform for, whilst having children around, particularly babies, really lights up the lives of the residents. One lady in particular spends the entire session just cooing and smiling at my baby daughter.

‘It is nice to know that from just a small interaction everyone is able to take away something positive from each session.’

Ms Neville added, ‘It isn’t just about learning a new language – it’s also about learning through the generations and about caring for each other, whatever your age. This is the kind of thing that really has the power to change society and create a real community feel.’

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