The advantages of children learning a second language are plentiful. They will have the opportunity to engage with more people as they go through their lives, improving their career prospects, their social lives and their understanding of other places and cultures. Learning a second language is a complex task at any age, but a child’s brain is a like a sponge making this the perfect time to start engaging with other languages.
As a parent you will want to support and encourage your child’s learning in any way possible but if you don’t have additional language skills yourself then this can be tricky. Below is a list of simple yet effective tips recommended by an International School in Cambridge which will help you to support your child in their language acquisition journey.
The fridge, the mirror, the television. Dig out the post-its and get sticking. This can be an activity you and your child do together, making your way through the house labelling common items in the language they are hoping to acquire. Seeing these words around the house will make them more familiar and reinforce the connection between the object and the word they are trying to learn.
Exposure is Key
If your child already has a basic understanding of key words and phrases, then immersing them in a situation where they can hear these words spoken and can even attempt to engage in conversation is incredibly useful. You may consider booking a holiday to a destination where your child’s target language is the native tongue, offering them an extended period to listen to conversations and practice speaking.
Turn on the TV
Try watching movies or TV shows that your child loves,dubbed in the language they are hoping to learn. This is a way to increase exposure to their second language without even leaving your home. This relaxed learning tool will allow your child to become more familiar with words they are trying to learn in an enjoyable and stress-free situation.
Curled up with your child with a book that they love is the perfect relaxed setting for them to absorb their target language. Find books that you know they will love in the language they are aiming to learn and read them together each night before bed. Books with lots of pictures will allow them to follow the story visually regardless of whether they understand all the words they are hearing. As children’s’books tend to use simple words and phrases with lots of repetition, over time they will be able to connect the phrases they hear with the images they see.
For older children having an overseas pen pal is a fantastic tool for language acquisition. Receiving letters from their distant new friend is an exciting and engaging activity which will allow your child to practice writing in their target language. In addition to this it offers your child the opportunity to develop their knowledge of other places and cultures whilst forming friendships they could have for a lifetime.