For anyone, learning a second language is not easy. For children, learning a language can be facilitated not only in school but also at home. Being surrounded by native speakers and native culture helps infinitely, but there are some tips and tricks to help the process along. Here are five of the best to help your child pick up their second language.
Organise a play date with a native speaker
This does not always have to mean joining a playgroup with local children, although that is certainly a good idea. Something as simple as introducing your child to colleagues who speak the lingo may start to prove useful. There may be meet-up groups in your area of other mothers who want to introduce their children to others and this is the perfect opportunity for your child to be exposed to the language. Try organising play dates if you know a child who speaks the language fluently. If the school or nursery offers classes after school hours, it might be a good idea to sign your child up for those. Most schools offer this kind of programme nowadays, particularly if there is a high concentration of expats in the community. Meetup.com is a great place to start, as well as checking local listings. If no group exists in your area, why not set one up yourself? It might be a great opportunity to meet other parents as well as practicing the language skills yourself!
Technology and your child
Technology is a gift when it comes to education, some may argue. Others may state differently but it certainly helps if it is difficult tracking down native speakers. There a million apps online nowadays to help your child, some more educational than others. Duolingo is popular with adults and kids alike, as it aims to make learning fun and bitesize. Using videos is always a good option, particularly if your child does not have access to their own phone or computer. YouTube alway has songs, dances and short lessons to help your child become accustomed to native speakers. As your child gets older, it may be worth investing in a programme such as Rosetta Stone . You could even try watching television together as a family in the other language to try and grasp the different intonations and sounds. Images work great with language learning, especially for children who are much likely to retain the color, shape and movement.
It goes without saying that the more time you dedicate to your child’s language learning as a parent, the easier it will become. If you speak the local language well yourself, this will make you a great teacher and example to follow. If not, it can become a fun way to learn together. Playing games, such as Pictogram, is a great way to learn new vocabulary. Perhaps you can even try reading a book together, depending on the age of your child. As you grow more familiar with the language, going to the movies could be a great way of assimilating to both culture and language. Keep it simple however, otherwise you could all be at risk of getting frustrated!
Practice the language!
The key for language learning is to keep practicing. Depending on the age of your child, this could mean giving them greater responsibility in helping you shop for groceries, buying clothes or ordering in a restaurant. The more a child practices a language, the better equipped they will be at applying it in the real world. It is one thing to learn a language through study but quite another to speak outside the classroom. This way, your child can grow in confidence and fluency, whilst becoming more comfortable with their surroundings. A reward system is also worth considering as a way to compliment your child’s use of the language. If they do really well in class or speaking to a waiter, then treating your child may reinforce positive learning. Either way, plenty of praise is always appreciated when you are encouraging your child with something difficult. Patience is also key. We are all bound to make mistakes, so remember that learning a new language does not have to be perfect and it will take some time. Keep goals small and be prepared for plenty of frustration. With a bit of hard work and effort on all sides, your child will soon be able to speak freely in another language and that is really priceless.