At Explor-A-World, we provide quality foreign language curriculum for schools and families to help introduce young children to the wonders of language learning and world culture.
What started as an after-school French club, led by founder Kennedy Schultz, has grown into a database of detailed lessons and activities in six world languages: French, Spanish, Italian, German, Mandarin, and Arabic.
We learn new languages when we speak with one another in meaningful situations. That’s why our lessons are designed to foster communication and interaction with real people–not clicking on flashcards or memorization games. Children, teachers, and families can learn together by listening to native-speaker audio of each new word and engaging in face-to-face activities that are fun for all!
Kennedy began teaching at colleges in Western New York after receiving her doctorate in French Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She jumped at the chance to lead an after-school French Club at her son’s school, but knew she needed to adapt her teaching to a younger crowd. She discovered that very few materials existed to introduce French to young children, and most of them had no cultural context…..so she researched, tested, and revised a set of lessons that included music, art, movement and culture to engage kids in learning French!
We might have stuck with French until the question…”Can you teach Italian, too?”
Many of our school families were of Italian heritage and wanted their children to connect with native-speaking grandparents and relatives. And so, Explor-A-World was born.
In 2010, we created a database of lessons in four languages. Mandarin was added in 2011 and Arabic in 2014. With the help of native-speaking language professionals, awesome elementary school teachers and culture-loving contributors, we have created a resource that lets adults learn along with the kids by providing authentic audio and downloadable resources.
Why We Do What We Do
For decades, studies have shown the benefits of early language learning: promoting cultural understanding, appreciation of diversity, and curiosity about the world. It helps develop one’s native language and general math and reading skills. Newer research explains why: our brain’s language centers contribute to many different cognitive functions. Researchers have shown how working memory, ability to focus, and cognitive flexibility are enhanced by early language learning experiences. It would be great if all kids had the chance to experience new languages at an optimal age….but they don’t.
Education funding has dwindled and the focus on Common Core and STEM have pushed many other worthy programs aside. Without resources, parents or teachers struggle to find ways of bringing language and culture to kids. Explor-A-World can fill this gap by offering ready-to-use lessons that give children a head start in languages!
Where We Are Going
In 2013, we received a federal Small Business Innovation Research grant to research language-learning games for children. As a result of this research, we are developing and testing interactive digital games that will complement our lessons and provide additional opportunities for children to engage with language.
We continue to add new languages and vocabulary themes to our program as well. Look for lessons in Transportation, Nature, Sports, and Imagination coming in the summer of 2015. We hope that you will follow us as we grow and learn together!