Although the internet has made it easier than ever to communicate with people around the world, it is no substitute for learning another language. As well as boosting your child’s CV making them more employable, learning another language teaches children about diversity in the world.
Image by Keith Williamson
The good news is, kids have an incredible natural ability to pick up languages from a very early age. However, they also need a little encouragement. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of five top tips to make the learning process as painless as possible:
Make it fun!
Whatever the age of your children, it’s vital to make learning languages as fun and varied as possible. This can be done by incorporating vocabulary into song, using cartoon pictures to aid memory and playing simple word games. Only move on to trickier subjects like phrases after mastering the basics. Above all, be creative! If you’re stuck for ideas, there are plenty of teaching tips online.
At the very beginning, learning can be stressful for the parent as well as the pupil, so try and be patient, even if progress is slow at first.
There are many tools out there that will give your kids a head start in learning a new language. Thankfully, the days of being made to conjugate French verbs parrot fashion at the front of the class are over. Online tools and translators can also be used to check the accuracy of your child’s work. If you know a native speaker of the language or are fluent in the language yourself then even better.
Remember to consider online safety if your children are using the computer. It’s worth being particularly vigilant if they are on social media sites such as Facebook.
One of the best ways of encouraging your child’s learning is through offering an incentive here and there. If your child is learning one of the common European languages – for example French or Spanish, it might be worth planning a family holiday to that destination. Acclimatising to the place itself is the ultimate shortcut to language learning success – plus you get to go on holiday too, so everyone’s a winner!
Exposure to language
As we all know, children learn at different speeds. Some respond to a formalised learning environment, while others thrive in a more creative setting. That said, the more of the target language the child reads and hears, the more ingrained it will become.
The internet is a fantastic resource for finding helpful learning videos and other tools. Plus, if you know anybody else who speaks the language, invite them around. Learning a language is all about being social.
Don’t overdo it…
Although there’s no harm in encouraging children with their learning, working in twenty-minute bursts is likely to be far more productive.
If you follow these tips and remember to keep it fun, you’ll have your child speaking a foreign language fluently in no time.