Aloha! Learning a new language can be a lot of fun for kids. Aside from the many benefits of knowing how to speak in Spanish, French or another popular language, they’re going to be exposed to new experiences and cultures. Knowing a second language will also give them the confidence to talk to other kids and make new friends, especially if you love to travel.
How do you go about teaching your kids a new language? There are a number of ways to do this, but always make sure your kids have fun while doing it!
1. Dual Learning
Children can learn multiple languages at an early age. When your child is learning to speak English, expose him to to the language you want him to learn. Kids pick up words and how to pronounce them pretty fast, you’ll be surprised at the speed that they can develop their vocabulary. If you or your husband speaks another language, one of you should speak to your child exclusively in that language while the other talks to him in English.
2. Start Early
When you introduce a second language to their learning, kids will associate one word in English and learn immediately what it means in the other language. Children under 3 years old are the best at picking up pronunciation and can easily mimic whatever it is their parents are saying, so use this golden opportunity to teach your child something new!
3. Make it a Game
Kids love games! Make learning a new language a game for them and they’ll pick it up faster. Children learn better when they’re fully engaged and if they think it’s all play and fun. A rigid, classroom type of session with lessons won’t be as effective as play based learning full of activities because children have short attention spans and get bored easily. Simple games like guess the different colors in both English and another language or name that animal can be a fun activity for them.
4. Read to them
Another way to introduce your kids to a foreign language is to get them books that can teach them the proper pronunciation of the words and word associations. Choose books that are both in English and the language you’re aiming for. You don’t need to hire a professional translation company anymore when you have your own little linguist reading foreign language books back to you!
5. Videos, Apps and Music
Videos and TV shows such as Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street have basic Spanish lessons for children that use both languages. There are also a lot of apps that can approach learning a new language like a game. Once your child has the grasp of the new language, making him listen to children’s songs that he knows sang in another language can help him with proper pronunciation and word associations.
When you take your children to visit another country, you’re exposing them to the real deal. If you decide to visit France for example, everyone is speaking Francois, and when you were teaching your child the language before you embarked on your journey, she’ll enjoy the experience more because she’ll be hearing the language spoken out loud and she’ll get to talk to locals.
If you have an older child, it’s never too late to teach him another language. There are a lot of programs both in school and within some communities that provide lessons on the most popular foreign languages. You can even join your child in the lessons if you want to learn a new language as well! Turn it into quality time with your child, and they’ll never forget the experience of being in the same class with Mommy. A huihou!