7 Easy Steps To Help Your Child Pick Up A Foreign Language

·6-min read

June summer holidays are around the corner and it is time for you to start planning to utilise this time more productively. As the pandemic continues to rage and with the recent spike in cases, staying indoors just might be the best idea right now.

Parents usually look for activities during the June holidays to keep their kids engaged all throughout the month. It is a great way to engage those little brains in something creative and productive that will aid in their holistic development.

From virtual camps to online courses in Singapore, there are plenty of options to choose from. For your little prodigy, this is also a great time to learn a new language as their brains are more adaptive to a new skill.

If you want to use the summer holidays to start the foreign language learning process with your kids, here are some steps to help you plan better.

Language Learning Process: 7 Steps To Teach Your Child A Foreign Language

1. Don’t fall for it just because it’s a trend

language learning process
language learning process

Make the learning process fun and something which they shouldn’t feel burdened with. Image courtesy: iStock

Learning a second language is gaining immense popularity around the world. Looking at the benefits of being bilingual, parents are trying to give their children the gift of a foreign language.

But, remember, don’t push your child into it just because it is a “trend” and other kids are doing so.

First figure out if will it help them. You may need to also choose between the different languages available. For instance, Mandarin or Korean are great in the East, while Spanish is more popularly spoken in the Western part of the world.

Would Spanish make more sense for your child in the long run? You need to decide that and then begin the research around it.

2. Research well

Once you start your research you will find that there are several classes offering the same thing. The challenge is “which one to choose and how to decide.”

Here are some easy tricks that you need to keep in mind. In today’s age and day, all these classes have a good online presence. This makes your job easier.

Read about them well on social media and see what users have to say about their experience. Don’t just look at the positive comments but specifically look for any negative comments and try to analyse the drawback.

Don’t believe in any comment blindly because experiences are different for different individuals.

3. Discuss with your child

Before you finalise your decision, discuss it with your child once. Gauge their enthusiasm and explain to them why you feel learning another language would be beneficial for them.

It shouldn’t be an excuse to make them stay away from screens.

Until and unless your kid understands its benefits, it will be like a burden to them. For instance, try saying, “Learning German will be fun! You will get to learn a new language during your summer holidays. And it will be a fun way to surprise all your friends?”

There’s an incentive attached to the process that will act as a motivator for the child.

4. Make them have fun

Children learn better when they are having fun with it. Whether it is playing games or drawing, take advantage of the playtime together to introduce new vocabulary and phrases.

It’s practically not possible to grasp a foreign language in 30 days, but the classes are designed for children to identify the basics. One of the most effective ways to teach your child a foreign language is by listening to music.

So have songs playing in the background constantly and after a while your child will be dancing along singing the words. Sometimes, just hearing the target language can help children get an ear for the different tones.

You can start with some simple things like learning colours and shapes, followed by numbers. You can also label things around the house and practice identifying them. So make the language learning process engaging to keep those little minds hooked on to it.

5. Make use of rich resources

language learning process
language learning process

You can encourage your child to watch cartoon in the foreign language which they are learning. Image courtesy: Pixabay

You may have enrolled your child in an online class, but you can still make use of the rich resources available online. For instance, research online for foreign language books, language apps, online language programs, games and activities.

Use screen time to your advantage and make your child watch their favourite cartoons or TV programs in a foreign language. The more they hear, the more it will become familiar to them.

6. Practice

The more your kids practice at home, the better they will get at it. If your child has enrolled for classes, they will be given study materials that will help them in their language learning process.

Make sure you sit with them and help them in their studies.

7. Find your kid a pen pal

language learning process
language learning process

A pen pal will help your child to know more about the culture and communicate in the language that they are learning. Image courtesy: iStock

You can help your child continue their language learning process by finding a pen pal from a foreign country. Yes, in the age of social media, they might find the idea a bit absurd. But share with them your own experience of writing to a pen pal and how eagerly you waited every time for their reply.

In simple words, find people or situations where your kid is surrounded by those who speak the language your child is learning. Help your child get more exposure and find ways to help them practice what they have learned.

Is It The Right Time?

It’s amazing to think that infants start without knowing a language, yet by 10 months they can distinguish speech sounds and engage in babbling.

Researchers suggest that 50 percent of our ability to learn is developed by the age of three and 30 percent by age of eight. That means that our learning pathways are mostly developed at a young age.

While researchers have not been able to agree on the age, they do agree that it’s easier for children to learn languages than adults.

Studies have also concluded that the younger the learner, the easier it is for them to recreate the new sound and learn pronunciation. This is not to say that older kids can’t learn a second language.

Researchers have argued that children learn implicitly – without conscious thought or effort. Implicit learning requires a large amount of language input over a long period of time. On the other hand, as we grow old, we develop the ability to learn explicitly – analytically and with deliberate effort.

So what’s the best approach when it comes to language learning? Both can co-exist and meet your requirements based on your willingness to learn.

While you make plans for your kids to add a new skill set during the summer vacation, make sure that they don’t feel pressurised by it.

Children look forward to the June holidays every year but for the second year in a row, kids will be away from their extended families due to the travel restrictions in place.

So in the meantime, plan exciting events like online playdates with grandparents or creative courses such as a language learning course.

News source: Bilingual Kids spot, The Conversation, Trufluency

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