I’ll admit, raising a bilingual child is often a difficult task, but with the right tools and resources it is possible to make language learning fun and a little bit easier.
Every month, I am going to share ways that you can encourage language learning at home. These ways have already been posted over on Instagram, where I share language learning tips every Thursday. If you are not already following us, please do so, as I share about more about our daily life in multilingual and multicultural adventures!
Language Learning Tip #1
Read a Picture Book or Dictionary together
1. Get out a few books that interest your children in either the target (minority) language or the majority (community) language.
2. Make a snack together or just take one out of a box.
3. Sit down at a table. Or on the floor, couch, wherever you feel comfortable and as long as you are all together.
4. Read your book by pointing to the pictures and saying the name of the objects found on the page.
We found this book about the circus at the library. My kids had previously gone to the circus so they knew about the different performing acts. But they didn’t know the words for them.
Reading a picture book makes the vocabulary easier to remember.
Language tip #2
Learning about other languages
In honor of people around the world giving thanks, we made up some cards and flashcards in 24 languages with the phrase “thank you” on them.
You can find these in my teachers pay teachers store My kids enjoyed learning how other people express thank you in their native language. We talked about some of these were similar to the ones we speak at home. We tried guess the country where the languages were from like Punjabi, Malay, French and Portguese. This then sparked the question of how many languages are spoken around the world. We have colored in a few cards and will be handing the out to neighbors.
Language Learning Tip #3
Learning by your children’s interest
Based on my research for language learning techniques, I have discovered that children are more likely to develop a closer relationship with a subject that interests them than one that doesn’t. They are less bored and more focused in learning. They will be able discuss the subject more using vocabulary they may have not learned before.
My children love learning about the body every year, we build upon their interests. We found a squishy take-a-part body model at a local dollar store. We talked about muscles and bones, body organs and systems. We drew pictures of what we found and had dissected.
Touching the body parts and observing their characteristics helps my children make better connections as well.
We learned new vocabulary words in both French and English. We reinforced our hands on learning with books from both languages. We really enjoy the selection @usborne_books has.
Click here to start your year off right with a 30-Day Language Challenge for you and your kids.
Language learning tip #4
Use puzzles and animal figurines
- Match the animals to the puzzle pieces.
- make animal sounds while your child tries to figure out where the pieces go
- Sort by animal type, number of legs, what they eat
Language learning tip #5
Magnetic Dress Up Kits
- Use magnetic dress up kits to develop and improve language and speech, and enrich your child’s vocabulary
- Learn the names of the different types of clothes and accessories like dress, skirt, pants, headband
- Dress up the dolls by season discussing what we wear it’s hot and cold
- Talk about the type of material used to make the clothes
- Sort the clothes by type or color
- Set up a pretend shop and have the dolls by clothes – you could also incorporate using money into this
- Role play – talk about the doll’s outfits and where they are going.
- For boys you could use the community worker dress up kit and talk about the types of jobs and also some of the activities above.