Our goal is always to help our children learn their own language, so that they can read, write and communicate effectively. However, learning at least a few key words and phrases of another language is important, especially now that we live in such a multicultural society, with so many different languages spoken around us every single day. At primary school, children will do ‘modern foreign languages’ (MFL), and at secondary school will learn a language up to at least GCSE level. Most schools offer French, Spanish or German, but languages such as Mandarin are becoming more common options now. You may think your preschooler is too young to learn a language, but you can start introducing it at a young age – here are a few top tips for teaching your child a new language:
1. Remember children are like sponges
Young children LOVE to learn and soak up knowledge and new words really quickly – make the most of it! We all know how easily they repeat words (particularly ones we don’t want them to!), so get into the habit of saying words in the new language – hello or goodnight for example. They’ll soon start to copy them!
2. Learn the language with them
Be a positive role model – if they see you making an effort to learn the new language, they will see it as important and take a greater interest.
3. Use language learning aids and props
There are so many commercial learning aids, books, CDs and DVDs out there to help, some of which are available at a discounted price.
4. Emerge yourself in the language
To become fluent in a language, you need to be exposed to it as often as possible. If you know someone who speaks the language, get them to talk to the child every day. If this isn’t possible, pop a French radio station, such as Radio France on in the background (or find a radio station on the internet in the language that you are learning) or watch a film with subtitles.
5. Make it fun
Play restaurants or shopkeepers. Sing songs. Make up rhymes and comic strips. If children are having fun whilst learning, they are much more likely to absorb it. Don’t feel self-concious or silly – remember you are teaching your children valuable skills.
Can you or your child speak another language? I’d love to know your tips!