Language Showering

Language showering is a method of foreign language teaching in early childhood education where a target foreign language is used, for example, by preschool staff during the children’s everyday life and activities. The foreign language is used occasionally and where it fits naturally.

Language showering is often associated with language immersion but the two differ in terms of use and goals. In language immersion the language is used constantly and the goal is to learn the language, whereas in language showering the language is used approximately 25% of the time and the goal is to provide the children with positive experiences of languages, different cultures and language learning itself. Language learning is, of course, encouraged and supported but it is a secondary goal in language showering.

Pedagogically language showering takes advantage of the critical period of the children's nervous system when they are more heightened to language stimuli. Language showering also incorporates language learning through functionality and music by utilizing foreign language versions of games and songs the children are already familiar with in their own mother tongues. The language is learned mostly orally through repetition and usage, not by having one’s head buried in books.

Using a foreign language, the teacher can, for example, greet the children each morning, count the children in attendance, play a game of I spy using colors outside, praise the children for their good deeds and wish them well at the end of the day. Naptime stories can also be read in a foreign language, and if the teacher is not confident in, for example, their French reading abilities, the teacher can find stories online in video or audio formats.

As the goal of language showering is simply to create positive experiences relating to languages, the use of a language does not have to be perfect or complicated, and thus anyone can apply language showering. Children’s parents are hence encouraged to maintain the enthusiasm towards languages gained in early childhood education and employ language showering at home as children often want to demonstrate their knowledge of a language.

Language showering was invented in Finland in 2010 when a group of language teachers sought to find a way to get children excited about languages. Language showering has been an official part of the early childhood education curriculum in the city of Jyväskylä since 2016. The showering languages in Jyväskylä are English, German, French and Russian.

Read more:
Master's Theses on Language Showering in various languages

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