We are big fans of foreign language in our house. Well, I am, and the kids try to adjust.
Just for the record, no, we are not fluent in foreign languages. But we try to be familiar at least. In our case, with Spanish, as our youngest child was born in Guatemala. Not only do I feel strongly that he should at least be familiar with his native language, I feel even more strongly that we should ALL be well versed in another language. It builds brain cells and it can build bonds with people in other places. Not to mention that it is a required credit for most high school diplomas and college entrance.
In my opinion, foreign language instruction is not for the faint at heart. Unless you are fluent in a second language, it can be tricky and, at the very least, intimidating to teach. But it can be done.
By starting at an early age, you can ease into a new language together with your child. Playing games, reading books, and listening to recordings in your chosen language is a great way to immerse yourself. There are many curriculums available that will provide flash cards or even stickers to help you label your surroundings. You can pick up books on tape from the library in many different languages and often be able to follow along with a corresponding book. Let’s face it, the more you surround yourself with a new language, the more you and your child will pick up.
That is one reason I love concentrating on Spanish in the summer. For us, it is a time that we ease off of many of our other subjects and have more flexibility in our schedule. Here are some things for you to try:
Have a themed meal.
Try to make food from the country of origin of the language you are teaching and then try to use only that language while you eat!
Label your home.
Many kids are visual and love seeing brightly colored labels on the things they use most often.
Learn a few new songs.
YouTube has lots of fun kids’ songs in different languages you can learn.
Play a game.
Games like charades, pictionary, and even hide and seek can be more fun if played using only the language you are learning.
Visit a museum.
In our town we have a Hispanic museum. It is a great place to learn about the Hispanic culture and even pick up a few new vocabulary words.
Make a friend.
If you can find someone from a different culture than you, you will find you have lots to offer each other. Not only can you practice speaking with someone in their native tongue, you can learn about their family and culture as well.
Above all, make learning a family affair. When you all work together and have a little fun, you will be well on your way to learning a new language!