Councils introducing English in daycare

More and more councils taking advantage of young children’s ability to learn quickly

Two northern Zealand councils have started teaching English in daycare (børnehave) and more are set to follow.

Both Gentofte and Lyngby-Taarbæk councils have started teaching English to young children via songs and play.  There is also one daycare in Ballerup teaching English to youngsters.

In Gentofte, a large majority of the council voted that children be taught English in daycare and about 40 of the 80 institutions have started the process.

In Lyngby-Taarbæk, introducing English has been a positive experience for the daycare Børnehuset Drivhuset, according to centre's leader, Lissen Olfert.

“I see only advantages in Danish children experiencing English early,” Olfert told Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper. “We live in a globalised world and they are already hearing English on television.”

Offert said that older children are already asking teachers, “How do I say that in English” and playing in the language. She stressed that the children’s basic education is still done in Danish.

READ MORE: Teaching English early gives kids a bilingual edge, proponents say

Growing trend
Although some private daycares and international schools have already had English on the menu for very young children, this is the first time that council-run institutions have added it to the curriculum. And it's not just Gentofte and Lyngby-Taarbæk. In Måløv, which is located in Ballerup Council, the Kærlodden daycare introduced English for daycare children this year.

Charlotte Pind, a teacher at Kærlodden, said it is about giving the kids a sense of confidence as they move into a world that contains more and more English everyday.

"We teach them things like colours, shapes and body parts so they will feel more confident when they start learning English in preschool and first grade," she told The Copenhagen Post. "They want to learn it and use it. Many of them will come in and say 'Good morning' after they have been taught how to."

Rikke Østergaard is a parent in Måløv. Her youngest daughter started receiving English in daycare at Kærlodden this year. Both mother and daughter are happy for the initiative. 

"It's my impression that it is going very well," Østergaard told The Copenhagen Post. "She is really into it and practises and practises. I think the whole daycare views it as a success."

READ MORE: School reform calls for English in first grade

English in first grade next year
As part of the coming school reform, English will be introduced to first grade students in public schools beginning in autumn 2014.

“In Gentofte, we try to be ambitious on behalf of the children,” Pia Nyring (K) told Kristeligt Dagblad. “it is important to us to both create a safe environment and challenge them.”

Ole Hansen, a child researcher and PhD at the education department at Aarhus University, agrees with the move to introduce English early.

“There is no reason not to teach children English in daycare,” Hansen told Kristeligt Dagblad.”They should still have time to play, but their ability to learn a foreign language is strong, and they already live in a world filled with English, so why not systematise it?”