The world of today is globalizing and becoming a single place ever faster. The borders are blurring, and the distances are shrinking. Under such circumstances, it is extremely hard to underestimate the importance of knowing more languages than just your mother tongue.
All parents wish what's best for their children; we want our kids to be successful in their lives, and we want them to be as well-adapted as possible to this global world. Obviously, it is better to start learning a foreign language as early as possible, while the kid's brain is still “fresh”, and the child is naturally curious about every piece of information s/he comes across.
But how do we start? Unfortunately, this is not among the knowledge taught and learned at schools and universities.
This article offers 10 top tips to help your child study a foreign language. Here we go:
Before you begin all the complex activities aimed at your child learning a foreign language, there is a bit of work for you to do yourself. You need to have a clear understanding of why your child learns this language. “To be adapted to the global world” is too abstract in this case. To get a better job in future? To have a cultural sensitivity? The answers may vary, but you need to answer this question yourself and remember the answer at all times.
2. Immersion into culture
Have your child watch TV-shows and movies and listen to some fun songs in the desired foreign language. Of course, to the extent that the child still finds it enjoyable, don't force it upon them. Don't expect the child to understand everything at once, this is primarily aimed at blurring the alienation – so that your kid did not perceive the foreign language as actually foreign.
Speaking of which…
3. Further exposure
Remember that every language is an organic part of a particular culture, and it barely exists outside this environment. Therefore, it will be great to have all the cultural exposure you can get. Learn about the countries where this language is spoken, visit all the themed exhibitions and presentations, take all the chances you can get.
4. Practice the language
If you and your spouse can speak this language – do so. There can be different approaches to realizing this in practice. You may speak the mother tongue, while your spouse answers in the foreign one. Or, you may all speak one language in the first half of the day, and the other one in the second. Just remember not to mix up the languages. Don't go Creole – it will only get the kid confused.
If you and your spouse are monolingual, then you can learn the language together with your child, and make it even more fun!
Additionally, you can host a foreign student or teacher.
5. Compare the languages
It is also important for a child to understand the fact that the two languages are actually different languages. It may seem obvious to an adult, but not to a child. Don't forget to explain that.
The best way to do so is bilingual books or TV-shows with subtitles.
6. Involve the technology
Surely your child uses the computer and/or mobile gadgets; install some fun language-learning apps.
You might even consider having the entire operating system of the device switched to the foreign language.
7. Be easy on the mistakes
If you happen to know, among other things, the foreign language in question better, great! But that doesn't mean you have to proudly point it out in front of your child every single time. Of course, mistakes are to be pointed out and learned from. But it needs to be handled with extreme care and gentleness. For example, if your child says “I bringed…”, you should pretend you didn't catch it and ask: “Do you mean you brought something for me?”
8. Pick the right school
Once your child goes to school, its role in their upbringing also becomes important. Concerning the language, it is best to choose a bilingual school where subjects are taught in two languages. If such a school is unavailable in your area, try a specialized school.
9. Don't leave it hanging at school
Unfortunately, not all teachers share an equal zest for their job. You need to get involved in the school life. Show interest in the foreign language teacher's techniques and methods. If necessary, associate with other parents. Just don't let it all go with the flow.
10. Let your child travel
Last but not least – It is vital for your kid to understand that the importance of a foreign language is not abstract, but quite practical. If possible, have a vacation in a country where the language is spoken. Get them involved in school exchange programs and then – mission trips or study abroad. Don't leave your child locked in one environment.
Raising a child is a challenge already. Raising an apt language-learner or even a bilingual person is an extra challenge. Keep my tips in mind, and they will help your child master a foreign language without having to rely on the education system alone.
Also Read: Smart Way to Teach Children about Money
Richard Nolan is a blogger and a private tutor, sharing his experience in spheres of education, self-growth and psychology. Nowadays writing for numerous blogs and gives useful recommendations for students.