FUN AND EFFICIENT WAYS FOR CHILDREN TO BECOME BILINGUAL
Guest Contributor: Katie Gyurkovits, Online Academy Manager and Administrator of Break into English
We live in a world where bilingual is definitely better. Being bilingual or having a high level of a second language opens doors such as studying and working abroad. If you’ve tried to learn a second language as an adult you will probably have found it quite difficult and very time consuming. Learning a language (or anything else for that matter) as an adult takes more time and a lot more effort. That’s why the best gift you can give to your child is the gift of learning a language from the youngest age possible. Children are like sponges and pick up things so much quicker than adults. Before you know it your children will have acquired a second language in no time. We’re here to guide you with some fun and efficient ways for children to become bilingual.
If your child is already learning their second language at school then there’s a chance that a lot of their time is spent learning grammar rules, which can often be tedious for children, and not a lot of time practicing speaking, which is important for communication in the real world. When practicing the language at home try and think of fun and creative ways to engage your child.
Consider online language classes with a webcam. Online language classes are great because the student to teacher ratio is 1:1 and classes can be held anywhere in the world thanks to application such as Skype or Google Hangouts. Online classes allow children to learn a language from the comfort of their home – and benefit from personalized attention from their professionally trained teacher. For example, Break into English specializes in online a variety of language classes via Skype, not only English, and many of their teachers have been specifically trained to teach children using dynamic, challenging and fun activities that keep kids engaged and enthusiastic about the lessons. Their website can be found here: https://englishclassviaskype.com/ and they offer free trial lessons for all new students so you can test their method.
Read together: You could take time out of your evening to read a bedtime story in the target language. Make sure to ask lots of questions when reading, for example, about the different colours in the illustrations, ask what will happen next, who their favourite character is, etc. The more engaged a child is during an activity the more exciting it is for them.
Play games in the target language. You can buy games or even make them yourselves. A classic game is Pictionary: choose a topic and write vocabulary from this topic on different cards. Each player takes it in turns to pick up a card and draw the word whilst other players have to guess what the image is. If you’re learning English with your children then this site has some fun educational games: https://www.orchardtoys.com/.
Do a craft together. Children like to be creative and many children love doing crafts. Try doing a craft in the target language you are learning. Find instructions online or think of something yourself. Teach your children the names of the materials you are using and make sure you get them to repeat any new words they are learning.
Follow a recipe in the target language. Everyone loves to get messy once in a while, children even more so! Write or print a recipe in your target language to learn some new cooking words and food names. It’s a good idea for children to be able to learn the name of an ingredient and have it physically in front of them to have a visual memory of the object.
Find out some cultural information about your target language country. Use this information to take part in some cultural activities. For example, if you are trying to learn Spanish, why not organize a special tapas night at home? Cook the food as a Spanish family would together and try and learn some of the ingredients and dishes in Spanish as well as some of the cultural references linked to the food.
Listen to songs in the target language. Tune in to a radio station online that speaks or plays songs in the target language. Check out youtube to listen to some famous artists’ songs. Lyrics Training allows you to listen to songs in different languages and fill in the missing lyrics.
Take a trip! If you have the time and economic stability to do so why not take a trip? Immerse yourselves within a different country and pick up some new words and phrases whilst discovering a new culture on site!
Sign your children up to a language camp. There are many holiday camps available throughout the year which allow children to take part in activities such as crafts, sports and games in order to reinforce their target language. There are residential or day camps which give you the flexibility of managing your kids’ level of immersion.
As you can see, learning a second language from a very young age doesn’t have to be a drag. Quite the contrary! It can be a wonderful opportunity to do cook up fun and interesting activities as a family and strengthen bonds with your loved ones all the while acquiring essential tools for today’s globalized interconnected world.