How can I help my child learn a foreign language?

Maybe you are planning a holiday in a foreign country or perhaps you have family or friends living abroad and want to learn the language to communicate easily. You may think that because you aren’t fluent in a language you won’t be able to teach your child, however, it isn’t difficult to learn a few of the basics as you go along. Besides, learning about another language and culture together is an excellent way to spend quality time as a family.

Read on for tips on helping your and your child learn another language. Find links to the best language learning resources available today.

How to make learning languages fun.

Children learn best when they are actively taking part in the activity. Learning a language progresses much faster in an interactive and fun environment.

Make learning realistic:

Use the language for daily activities such as counting as you go up the stairs, naming the foods and drinks at breakfast, lunch or dinner. When playing outdoor games try to incorporate the language, such as playing hopscotch, name the colours of the cars as you walk to school or the park. Find a recipe of a typical dish and make it together with your child practising the names of the ingredients in the language.

Use music:

By listening to songs sung by native speakers children can hear the pronunciation, the key sounds which will help them copy and sound more fluent themselves and improve their understanding of basic terms. If you use popular songs that children already know in their first language they will quickly pick up the translations in the new language. Often CDs include the lyrics. The Little Linguists website has a selection of CD’s of foreign language songs and rhymes.

Teach through reading books:

Try to read to your child regularly in the foreign language, for example, each night before going to sleep. This will help your child improve their understanding of the language and the pictures will help them learn new words. Nowadays there are audio books of fairy stories read by native speakers. For example, Little Red Riding Hood (Caperucita Roja) is available as a bilingual book or CD. Involve your child by asking them questions about the pictures and pointing out the key words. Learn the language slowly, step-by-step with easy words and gradually start to build short sentences.

Take advantage of free online language learning resources:

There are many websites that offer free language resources with games, interactive videos and activities. BBC Schools has a language section with links to games, audio and video aimed at children 4-11 years.

As you can see, even if you aren’t fluent in the language yourself there are many fun ways you can incorporate foreign language learning into everyday life without making it a chore. If you have friends or family living in a foreign country, phone calls, emails and chatting over Skype is a good way to practise what you have learnt and you are sure to impress them!

If you would like any furhter advice about how to teach children languages or would like to learn the basics yourself to begin with feel free to contact us.

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