Being able to speak a second language has become an increasingly desirable skill over the last several years. In fact, more and more high schools are requiring the study of a second language as a part of their credit requirements to reach graduation.
Many colleges also prefer that incoming students have a minimum of two years studying a world language, especially if they are looking to enter an arts and science program. Experts even say that the earlier a child begins speaking and listening to a non-native language, the easier it will be for them to absorb the information. Although the task of your student mastering a new language may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be.
You can help your child excel with these tips for learning a new language.
Learn What Motivates Them
To begin, tips and tricks will only do so much. Your child must have a genuine willingness to learn a new language to be successful, so help them identify this reason from the very start. Whether it is because they have friends who are native speakers of their target language or they want to learn it for career purposes later on in life, having a reason that they feel passionate about will keep them interested and wanting to learn for the long haul.
Study Through Everyday Habits
The phrase “practice makes perfect” is very true for any new skill. This is especially applicable when teaching a child a world language. Fortunately, there is a way to practice without your student feeling like it is work. Label items throughout your home with the foreign word for that object. The more your child sees the word for refrigerator, door, television, and a variety of other words in their target language, the more practice they will have with memorizing them.
Learn Basic Grammar Rules
While grammar rules are not the most exciting thing about learning a new language, they are an essential component. Without proper knowledge of basic grammar rules, there will be no structure for the language to come together. Just like learning the alphabet, understanding the basic grammar rules provides children with a strong foundation. It is crucial for your child to learn the appropriate grammar and patterns in their target language to successfully build upon and make progress.
Go on an Immersive Trip
Not all learning needs to be done inside the classroom or even at home. Delving into the culture of the language your child is trying to learn is a great way to help pique their interest even further. Eat at restaurants that serve authentic food, spend some time at museum exhibits that showcase the origin of the language, and check out festivals that celebrate the culture overall.
How do children learn language best? Immersion is key. School-organized trips abroad can serve as a powerful learning tool. Knowing there is an adventure ahead can be a great motivator for children learning a non-native language. This will provide fantastic opportunities for your student to connect with the language on a different level than trying to read, speak, and listen to it from typical resources.
Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA) has organized internal trips for students to help expand their horizons and dive deeper into their learning journey.
Turn on Subtitles and Listen to Non-Native Music
Music and movies can provide an entertaining way for children to engage in new languages. Since the melody of songs are the same no matter the language, they can learn their favorites by listening to them in the target language.
Singing their favorite songs that they already know the words to can help them to grasp the non-native versions easier, thanks to interest and familiarity with the sounds. Movies can also be a big help, especially when subtitles are put to use for the language they are learning. A lot of sources, such as Netflix, Youtube, and Spotify have different language settings to explore, making them excellent outlets for this learning method.
Read Books in a Non-Native Language
Literature will help children to become visually familiar with new words. You can always ask your student’s teacher for suggestions for books and movies that are most suitable for their age and learning level.
By looking at pictures in books and seeing the visual representations of the scenarios within the story, your child will be able to make the connection between what is going on and the words they are trying to learn. The best books for intermediate and advanced beginners are picture books and books that your child has read before.
Play Language–Learning Games
Help your child learn in a fun way by using language-learning games and apps. There are tons to choose from, many of them even free or inexpensive. Rosetta Stone has been in the language teaching business for decades and offers learning courses for over 20 different languages, which are available by subscription. Your child will learn greetings, phrases, expressions, stories, and more, making it a valuable learning tool.
Duolingo is another popular choice available on the market, helping language learners through the use of colorful flashcard tutorials. Lessons are short and based on speaking or listening. Offering over 30 languages, this app is available for free.
Practice Pronunciation With a Partner
Since speaking is one of the key components to successfully learning a new language, your child will benefit greatly from practicing with a partner. Even better is to find someone who is fluent in the language they are trying to learn. By practicing with native speakers, children are able to acquire the new language in real life as opposed to academic situations.
Speaking a new language can be intimidating at first because learners are afraid to make mistakes with their pronunciation. Practicing pronunciation with native speakers of their target language can help your child break through those fears and become fluent in their new language much faster.
Set Learning Goals
Your child will not become fluent in the new language overnight, and it will take time and patience to make progress. That is why setting SMART goals and tracking progress are so important. This means that all goals for children learning a language should be:
- Specific enough to aim for identifiable accomplishments
- Measurable to track progress
- Attainable so that the steps to get to the goal are logical
- Realistic enough for your child to have the actual desire and capability to achieve them
- Timely, in order to provide a specific deadline to aim for in reaching their goal
By setting goals that your child can reach and tracking their progress, it will be easy for them to see how far they have come in their learning experience.
Take a World Language Course at CCA
At Commonwealth Charter Academy, students have the chance to achieve great academic success. We offer a variety of language options including Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, sign language, and several other choices. We are dedicated to providing each student with a virtual learning experience designed to help them reach their fullest potential. For more information about the world language courses and more at CCA, contact us today!