I have recently returned from doing another story time session at a popular play centre. I take my bilingual stories which are predominantly in English with Spanish slipped into context, some flash cards, character dolls and a spot of Spanish music. The children aged from 6 months to 7 seem to concentrate really well as they listen to the story and I am not sure concentration would last as long if the story was entirely bilingual. They love the fact that they can look after a doll while I read and they are asked to join in and repeat when I come to a Spanish word. There are the odd few that don’t join in, but on the whole the majority of them shout out the words back to me with A LOT of enthusiasm! They also love to get up and dance at the end, learning some basic flamenco moves. This got me thinking about how early we start teaching languages as, as a rule we Brits do not tend to encourage language learning as much as you see on the continent. It’s definitely something that is becoming more popular as people are realising the benefits, but still there is slight reluctance. I wonder if we somehow harp back in our minds to our teenage years, standing up in French class, wildly blushing, having to recite a verb and it made me realise what an awful age that is to start learning languages. Not only is it that much harder but it can be such a painfully awkward time. The children I have been reading to, lack all inhibition, jumping and dancing around and hollering back at me in Spanish. They don’t look to see what their friend is doing, they don’t blush, or shy away- they just go for it. They don’t really realise that they are being taught Spanish; they just suck it all up! It only reinforces to me what a prime age this is for introducing a second language.