If you want your child to learn a second language, the most important thing is to get them to want to learn a second language! “If students lack personal investment and engagement, retention rates plummet. Emotional interest, genuine relationships, focused actions, active goal-setting, and real-world connection make the difference between information that is forgotten soon after a test and building a foundation of knowledge”, says Marilee Sprenger, author of How to Teach Students to Remember. Below you will find 4 important tips to motivate your child to learn a second language.
In order to get your child motivated, it is relevant to present learning a second language as something fun that they can look forward to. Your attitude as a parent towards learning is as important as your child’s. Make sure you participate in the learning process and encourage developing positive emotions towards this new challenge. This will promote the child to be motivated, willing to learn and enjoy every step of the process.
Set fun objectives
Short-term objectives are great motivators. Suggest small tasks where they can apply what they have been learning and feel proud of their accomplishments. Praise them and come up together with the next challenge.
Giving a new toy to your child when he learns something new can be very motivating, but if the behavior becomes dependent on the rewards, it will stop when the rewards stop. One thing is to surprise your child once in a while and let him know how proud you are of the efforts made, and something completely different is to get him to think that he will always be rewarded. Researchers at Stanford University found that when children who enjoyed drawing with markers were paid to do so, they quit using them when they were no longer being paid. In other words, the reward crushed their motivation for drawing on their own.
Have meaningful conversations
One-on-one talks with your child are crucial for tapping into a child’s intrinsic motivation, says Edward Deci, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. Children are naturally curious and inviting them to understand why something makes sense appeals to their intellect. Have a conversation with your child about learning a second language. Tell him all the great things that can come from it, dream about travelling somewhere and getting to use the language… in short, give him reasons to want to learn.
Consider their capabilities
Not all children have the same capabilities, so instead of focusing on the achievement of a specific task, focus on the effort put into the process, the dedication, attention to detail, etc. “The feeling of mastery is profoundly motivating,” says child psychologist and author, Dr. Kennedy-Moore. “And the flip side is also true. When I hear about a kid fighting homework I wonder if there is a skills gap or a learning issue that is making this kid feel like it’s impossible to do what we’ve asked.” So have a meaningful conversation with your child about what might be getting in her way. If more answers are needed, talk to her teacher, pediatrician, or a counselor.
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