When it comes to teaching your child another language, it’s important to distribute your time fairly across the different aspects. From creating mindmaps for vocabulary to learning adjectives for music, ensure that the learning is evenly spread across each of the four pillars of language learning:
The Four Pillars of Language Learning
It might seem like an intimidating task to make sure your child focuses enough time on each pillar, but the most important thing to remember is that there’s no single method that will guarantee a “perfect” language education. If you want your child to have an enjoyable and effective language education, all you need to do is make sure that they’re actively using it.
A consistent routine will help your child build good learning habits, but studying with the same resources can get repetitive. So how about we make it more fun? Here are three tips to help you get started.
Set aside some time for your child to really get creative using the things they have learned. Young learners have a fantastic imagination, so all you need for this tip is some enjoyable material. This could be a book, a textbook, songs, a movie, or even YouTube video they’re obsessed with. Here are some suggestions to get you started!
Make up a story. Whether they draw, write, sing, dance, or act out their story is up to them. Encourage your child to speak as freely as possible by asking them questions about their story. What do they eat in this world? What’s the weather like? Who are their favorite characters? Where’s the best place to have fun? What happens in the beginning? What happens at the end?
Make it relevant. For younger learners, this could be asking them what they think will happen in their favorite cartoon, and for older learners this could be asking them about their favorite trends and the latest memes on social media.
Encourage them to reenact their favorite scene from a movie or sing a song they enjoy. Your living room could suddenly be a jungle where Simba roaring in French or a stage where Beyonce is singing in Spanish!
Roleplay. You’re a customer in a store, now challenge your child to sell you the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower, or the Great Wall! Or perhaps they’re a narrator for a nature documentary, a sports commentator, or even a tour guide.
Creative learning techniques like these are particularly good for the parts of a language that aren’t fun and require huge amounts of repetition. Rather than reading endless explanations on how these things work, it’s much easier to find interesting material and work through it.
Whether it’s work, school, or hobbies, everyone is busy with something nowadays! Setting aside time every day to study can be quite tough, so let’s get practical. What needs to be done today and how can your child get involved?
“We want to make a cake, so I need to go shopping, so let’s write a list. We need flour, eggs, milk, sugar, and butter.”
Why not ask your child to help you write a shopping list in their target language? Even if you aren’t fluent in the language they’re learning you can use a dictionary together and let your child take the lead when it comes to picking things up at the supermarket.
“We need to clean the house today. So we’re going to vacuum the floor, do some dusting, wash the dishes, and do the laundry.”
Does your child know how to say these things in their target language? Getting practical with a language is a great way to help your child learn, so whether you make a recipe, clean the house, or copy what someone else is doing in a video, it still counts. Don’t worry about absolute perfect pronunciation or grammar, those come with time—just make sure to integrate language learning into your child's life.
What’s your child’s favorite non-language related thing to do? Dancing? Video games? Reading? Whatever they’re obsessed with, try finding something to follow in their target language. It’s not uncommon for people to download video games and play them in other languages as part of their online language learning, and there are a plethora of tutorials online, so why not help your child improve at their hobby and learn a language at the same time? The great thing about this method is that since they already enjoy the hobby, it won’t seem like work.
4. A Diverse Learning Routine
The ideas in this blog are designed to make learning fun for your child, but they’re not the only ways to enjoy language learning! Your child’s favorite learning techniques will be unique to them, so make sure to explore numerous options and don’t worry if they get bored after a while--you can always work together and find new materials and techniques to have fun with.
Hero image by Austin Pacheco on Unsplash