I have two close examples which support the fact that children can learn a new language not necessarily from mother tongue teachers.
The first is a long study to which by myself I participated in 1998-1999 with a master thesis in Rome. Based on the main idea of Bruner about constructivism in psychology and learning processes we focused on children at kindergarten level living in an Italian context and being exposed to the English language as second one (L2). The research was inspired by 400 teachers and their young pupils. We eventually wrote this book comprehensive of all the work done. The cool point is that maybe only one of the teacher was a native English speaker, all the others learned in our seminars and transmitted their knowledge in the classroom. We analyzed their progress, prnunciation, improvements, diaries, workshops, a lot of interesting material…They did an excellent job and the children learnt each year more and more! Statistics and databases inclueded in the same book. Do you know why the children learnt English? The main result was that is because the teacher love them and express her lovely attitude plus interest towards them daily and firmly. A section of the project was dedicated to the expressions of her face, to her words and behaviours with the little ones. They love the L2 because they love in primis the person who is teaching them. That is why we intitled the book “The magic teacher”. This magic is nothing but pure love!
Second example is fresher and again comes from an experience in Italy which I only heard about directly and am supporting with material in Chinese language. My auntie, an experienced teacher and coordinator of seminars and workshop at a primary school, is already conducting Chinese classes in ludic form to the kids. And she never spoke Chinese before. She is using the modern Youtube way, karaoke, playful settings and real small storytelling linked to the new life of her adorable daughter (me 🙂 ) Here is an example i provided her few weeks ago. It is just so much sweet:
“Children understand love more than anyone else” (Nirmala Srivastava)