Encouraging our children to learn a second language and making it easy for them is one of the biggest gifts we can give them. It’s a fact that knowing more than one language opens plenty of doors, not only work-wise, but also socially, mentally and culturally. Some benefits of learning a language at an early age are better linguistic skills (ever heard of children referred to as “sponges”?), higher academic achievement and cognitive benefits such as enhanced creativity, better critical thinking and problem solving skills, among others.
But… how can we make this process enjoyable and simple for the little ones? We gathered 5 methods that will help your child learn while having fun!
1. Listening to music in the target language
Music stimulates the senses and promotes language, creativity, coordination, social interaction, self-esteem and memory. So why not listen to music in a second language and add one more benefit to it? You can find plenty of songs online for kids and printable coloring worksheets for them to associate what they are listening to, to what they are looking at. The LAE Kids Facebook page always posts lots of music videos to help your kids learn.
2. Hiring a nanny that speaks the target language natively
Many young people, usually students, travel abroad to learn about a different culture, learn another language, etc. In order to support themselves or just get some extra cash, they work as au-pairs. Hiring a young, energetic and fun person who doesn’t speak your native language is a great way of getting your children to learn while they go to the park, play games, come back from school or cook with the nanny.
3. Watching Cartoons
There are some cartoons, like “Dora the Explorer”, that have been specifically designed to help children to learn a foreign language. In these types of shows, children are encouraged to talk back to the cartoons, instead of just switching off in front of the TV. This concept is followed in other interactive educational cartoons and it helps children improve their listening and pronunciation skills.
Wondering where you can find these TV shows? We definitely recommend Netflix! It has many TV shows for children and it gives you the chance of adding subtitles and swapping languages.
4. Apps for kids
It’s very likely that your child works an iPad with more skill than you do. So, why not use it for educational purposes? Download an app that will help him or her improve their language skills. Take a look at this article and learn about “Gus on the Go”, a language app for children.
5. Using classes that emphasize play to stimulate learning and immersion in the language
There’s a reason why language schools exist and it’s because they are extremely effective! If you want your child to learn a second language, get him or her to attend classes in which they play, play and play some more. Your children will be looking forward to coming back!
At LAE Kids, we’ve had children from all ages and the only two things they had in common was the fact that they wanted to learn Spanish and that they never wanted to leave! Check out their experiences here.
BONUS: You can also take a look at this great guide for adults and children to learn Spanish.
If you have new ideas or have tried any other methods that work, please share them with us! Visit our Facebook page and feel free to share your experience with other parents in the comments below.