Long-term residents Lauralynn and Tom Goetz, recently returned from Vietnam, have set up practice tutoring young Sai Kung children in English through music and movement.
Four years ago the couple compiled a white paper entitled “Music and Movement and…Foreign Language Acquisition”, which has been translated into nine languages.
Tom said, “Music enhances language learning.” The earlier the learning begins the better. “The youngest child we have taught was 11 weeks old. It is beautiful to see a child’s amazing development.”
Tom and Lauralynn work as a team home-teaching English at $500 an hour. They use finger play, nursery rhymes and songs as well as movement. Children who hear English words, even without grasping their meaning, will develop an ear for the language.
They call it “total physical response”, acting out with the child. “Stand up, sit down, touch your head, turn around.”
Lauralynn, who taught music at Hong Kong International School for 13 years, says, “The natural approach is best. A child will learn phonetically from another human far better than from TV or a computer. Patricia Kuhl’s research has proven this.” The child is encouraged to act and think in the second language, not buried in structure and grammar.
Tom said one local year-old child is learning Indonesian, Cantonese and English simultaneously. “Multi-language learning does not confuse the child. Research proves their brain size expands and creative thinking increases.”
The Goetz’s have rented the same house in Pak Sha O since 1995, except for their six-year break in Vietnam, where Lauralynn taught in international and government schools. Both are educators, writers and editors.
Tom, a former trader, was a governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, consultant to the HK Trade Department and chairman of a Vocational Training Council Trades Training Board.