Moms We Love: Julia Pimsleur of Little Pim
You love the sweet little things that your child says. But imagine if your child could say them in more than one language, like Mandarin Chinese or Spanish? Julia Pimsleur, creator of Little Pim, is making it easier than ever for children to learn multiple languages with ease.
How did Little Pim come to be?
I was fortunate to have grown up bilingual in French and English and always thought that was one of the best gifts my parents gave me. I got scholarships, traveled and worked in France and had so many opportunities because of being fluent in a second language. When my first child was born, I wanted to find a fun and effective way to teach him French, and was surprised there was nothing on the market. My father was Dr Paul Pimsleur, creator of the Pimsleur Method for adults to learn a foreign language, which is an audio method. I adapted elements of his method into our video series, and brought to life the character Little Pim the panda. At the core of Little Pim is our proprietary Entertainment Immersion Method® which introduces children to their first 500 words and phrases in a second language through videos, apps, books, flash cards and music.
How important is it for children to learn another language?
Learning another language, especially at a young age when it’s relatively easy, is an investment that pays off for a lifetime. We live in an increasingly global world – one where bilingualism carries many benefits in the marketplace. Parents realize the importance of teaching their child another language as their kids are going to be competing with peers from all over the world who are bilingual and often trilingual.
Knowing a second language is an amazing benefit and brain booster and at Little Pim we think that should be available for every child. Research shows that children who acquire a second language demonstrate increased cognitive function, superior reading and writing skills, as well as advanced analytical and social skills. But the window for learning with a great accent and with ease starts closing around age six, so we are trying to help parents take advantage of those crucial early years when the brain is like a sponge for language!
What are some of the most popular languages chosen by parents to teach their children?
Little Pim’s top-selling language learning programs for kids are Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, and German. Many foreign language experts would agree these 5 languages will best benefit children for their future. We also offer our program in Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Portuguese, and Korean.
What is the best age to start trying to teach your child another language?
It’s never to early to start teaching a child a second language! Even before they can speak, babies’ and toddlers’ brains are pre-wired to learn up to 3 languages. Our program is recommended for kids ages 0-6.
After age 6, learning a new language gets increasingly harder every year and there is another drop off between ages 10-12. Ironically, this is when most children in America start learning a second language.
Let’s talk about the Entertainment Immersion Method and how it works?
Inspired by my own bilingual childhood, I developed the Entertainment Immersion Method® based on how children naturally acquire language by working with leading neuroscientist Dr. April Benasich, Director of the Rutgers Infancy Studies Lab and native language experts.
The Entertainment Immersion Method® leads with entertainment – we knew this needed to be fun and engaging – and taps into children’s natural love of play and learning. It teaches children their first 500 words and phrases in a second language and allows them to fall in love with language learning.
The more they watch, the more they learn. The language learning videos are segmented into 5-minute episodes to accommodate a young child’s attention span and simple sentences are broken down into easy-to-understand parts that are reinforced through repetition by native speakers.
What would you say to those who think that teaching a young child more than one language at a time can confuse them and therefore delay speech?
All the research has shown that children are able to learn up to three languages with ease and no confusion up to the age of six. This is happening routinely in other parts o the world like the Netherlands, India and many parts of Africa where children are raised trilingual and do not confuse the languages.
How did you choose the panda to be Little Pim?
We wanted the main character to be lovable and playful. Babies often see black and white better than color (and Little Pim is the first video many parents let their babies and toddlers watch) and the fact that he is panda introduces the idea of another country since pandas come from China. And kids love the panda. Everyone wins: the parents are thrilled because their kids are learning something and the kids are excited because they love this character and they’re also very proud of their new language skills.
Since starting Little Pim, have you seen certain trends in languages chosen? (For example, many of my non-Asian friends are choosing Mandarin Chinese to teach their children.) How does one language trend more than another?
Spanish is our best selling language, with French and Chinese tied for second. The latest trends we’ve seen at Little Pim are new parents choosing to teach their child 2 and sometimes even 3 languages at once. Parents often want to teach a romance language like Spanish or French and an Asian language like Chinese or Japanese.
What are the names and ages of your children?
Emmett is 11 and Adrian is 8. They are both precocious fantastic kids! Adrian speaks fluent French and Emmett speaks some Spanish, French and Hebrew.
What are your plans for Little Pim for the future?
It has always been our mission to make learning a foreign language easy and accessible to all kids–at the age they learn best, from 0 to 6 years. We are now in the process of developing new methods to reach new millennial parents during a time when it’s more important than ever to raise bilingual or even multilingual children in our increasingly global world. We continue to find new ways to deliver Little Pim to kids on all the devices they love so look out later this year for exciting new offerings!