If you use any of the following options, be sure let others help with your own learning of the language. You will definitely have questions about how to say odd words like "rolly polly"-- things that are tough to look up. Ask those helping with childcare!
If you are interested in this option, contact me through CGJ 09:25, 17 May 2006 (MST).
2. Au pairs
Check things out for yourself on one of many reputible au pair organizations such as Interchange Au Pair USA. I would strongly recommend borrowing or buying, "Au Pairing Up]," by Ruth Liebermann. It's a fun to read guide to getting the most out of the Au Pair experience and avoiding potential pitfalls. Many au pairs come to this country to learn and practice english. "Our experience was that out of of our five au pairs only one had the patience to handle child care and'french speaking at the same time. Some spoke french with us and english with the children, which wasn't the idea." (Deji)
3. Part-time Babysitters who Speak the Language
If you need childcare over the summer, consider contacting Hispanic Center on 807 W Chapel Hill Street,Durham NC 27701 or [|CHICLE] . They may help you find Spanish speakers qualified to babysit. (If you would like me to look into resources in your city, contact me through CGJ 09:14, 17 May 2006 (MST).
Just an hour or two a day would be wonderful. Even if you don't work outside the home, a parttime babysitter frees you up for doing your work at home, making phone calls and errands, getting together with a friend for lunch.
Make your expectations known. No television...this time should be interactive. Speaking, reading, writing, listening to music, should not be in English.
4. Full-time Daycare or Immersion Schools
These daycares and immersion schools may not focus directly on language "instruction" as we tipically think of it. They most likely will have the same idea of centers or classes that work on skills such as art, reading/writting, math, etc. These will all just be taught in the language.
Before you register, observe to see if really immersion and if kids speak to each other in the language. Look to ensure all resources are in the language, ask about field trips and if the communication during those trips is in the second language. Notice whether or not the children are speaking the second language to each other. If they are not, ask when the school expects that to happen. Within a year, students should be fluent in the language, but they should begin speaking the language to each other and should be encouraged to do so by their instructors.
Find out how the teacher learned the language and do not be wary if she's a non-native speaker. Look over her credentials for teaching the language and judge from that. You might also ask the teacher about his/her theories of education and how they feel students best learn a language.
Just to give you a feel for what many language daycares/schools do...Kimberly Fox of Franc-O-Fun in North Wilton, makes her classes fun for kids by including visual aids, props and fun-to-sing music. The vocabulary is not overtly taught, instead it’s just a part of games and songs and Fox claims that a child who remembered an entire lessons' worth of vocabulary and phrases even six months later.
Another program, Christine Chaise-Greenwood's French-American preschool in Avon, use what they term a “progressive, no fear” approach Children begin mainly using their native tongue with classroom activities and then gradually French vocabulary is introduced until the classes are conducted predominantly in French. "They don't analyze. It's pure absorption,” Christine notes. (O'Neil, A First Look at Second Language,2000).
The important thing is to observe a class before you sign up to see what methods the teacher is using. Are the students involved? Is the teacher talking too much or is he/she using activities in the language that get the kids interacting. Do the students look at ease and interested? If you’re seeing a great deal of repetition or are hearing too little of the foreign language being spoken you might think again.