Learning to speak a second language is difficult for many people. Children, however, seem to be at an advantage. They pick up languages much more easily than adults. However, sometimes, children do feel frustrated when learning a new language. Parents can step in and help whether they know the language or not. The following are some tips to help your child learn a language more fully.
Speak It with Them
This tip will be the most challenging for many parents. Speaking a language with your children requires that you have some knowledge of the language. Even if you are learning the language at the same time, you can be a role model. Language learning is hard, so having someone do it with them can be motivating. If you already speak the language, interaction in a natural environment improves their skills. Think about how you learned your first language. You did not learn it in a classroom. You learned to speak in your home by interacting with others.
Reading Improves Language
More than anything else, reading improves language development. Providing reading material can help children learn grammar, syntax, spelling, and usage norms. The written language demonstrates all of the things we are taught in class. By reading, especially fiction, we can see the typical relationship of language. If you speak the target language, read to your children, emphasizing inflection and tone changes. If you do not speak the language, consider letting them read texts on their levels and if this is not possible, look for YouTube or online videos of people reading these books in the target language.
Television Can Help
Media such as music and television have positive impacts on language learning. Allowing your child to listen to or watch entertainment in the target language can also help them learn body language and cultural differences. New languages are about more than words, syntax, and spelling. Culture, behavior, slang, inflection, and history are equally as important. Use media in any way that you can.
Change the Language
If you do not have access to media for your children, you can often change the language on the television. This will allow them to watch things they already know that can show them the language crossover. This also allows them immersion into the language at home.
Provide them opportunities to speak with their friends or make new friends who speak the target language. Peers can be some of the best teachers. Fluent speakers know how hard language learning can be, and they are more likely to have some authority or expertise in the eyes of your children. Friends are also a bit more relaxed than a textbook or adult television show.
Begin teaching your children a new language early. If you speak the target language, this is much easier. Children can begin learning a new language before their first birthdays. If you don’t speak the language, consider hiring a bilingual caregiver who will happily interact with the new language. This doesn’t have to be a full-time nanny. He or she can interact a few evenings a month to give you a break if necessary. If your children are in school, consider having the caregiver pick them up and watch them while you finish your workday.
Games that come from the target language and culture can be a fantastic way to increase language development. Likewise, games like Bingo, charades, and Pictionary can increase vocabulary as well. Have fun. Play games with your children to increase their language development.
There’s an App for That
There are thousands of apps for almost anything you want to do. Duolingo is one of the most popular language-learning apps for adults. Similar apps may be available for children. Some are free, and others will have fees. Choose what you want from the app and your budget before seeking an app. iOS and Android may also have different options.
Languages cannot be learned if they are not practiced. Encourage daily language interactions. Children need to practice even if they are catching on well. If you are teaching the lessons, you can also see when they are ready to add new vocabulary or concepts. If you are helping them learn but don’t speak the target language, you can still help them find new ways to practice and may even learn a thing or two.
Teaching your child to speak a new language does not need to be a formal undertaking. You can interact with your child and provide them learning opportunities that mimic speaking in a natural environment. Making learning fun is always the best way to approach learning at home. Let them be creative with the language and immerse themselves in the culture and language. Whenever possible, participate in the culture with them. You do not have to speak the language to encourage learning the new language.