The majority of the world speaks at least two languages. India, many African countries, as well as borderline areas in most countries in the world speak more than one language. To this list, we can add immigrants and their families, as well as the younger generations that in many countries in Europe have bilingual education. So, if you are a parent of a specifically gifted child who would like to learn a new language, you can ask yourself, how to help your kid learn a foreign language.
When it comes to learning a foreign language, you should bear in mind that the younger your child is when it starts learning a new language, the better. While it may hold true that the grammar part will have to wait until the child is a little older, the pronunciation part is much easier to learn when the child is young.
A lot of research has shown the massive benefits of starting early with a second language. Why children should start learning a language at an early age has to do with brain plasticity and the way that they process the information. Once they are all grown up, it becomes much harder to do so, because the native language knowledge they have becomes fossilized and that much more difficult to unlearn.
A lot of learning a second language lies in the head. Not only in the sense of actual cognitive processes that have to take place to start speaking using a different system of rules but also in the sense of the attitude one has towards foreign languages.
In the light of this, you should ask yourself whether you give enough support to your child. Understand that some things may be difficult for them, but also insist that they study regularly. Difficult things can be overcome, but only with enough practice.
Furthermore, you can encourage your child to keep learning a language by coming up with interesting activities that even schools cannot do. Have your child come up with a story and then use one of the top translation websites to have the story translated into your child’s target language. Then read the story with your child or have them translate it back into their own language. Keep the translation part a secret and see how long it would take for your child to figure out that they are the author.
Use media as much as you can. Although your child may not always be paying attention to what the TV characters are saying, their young brains still process some of that information. TV can be super helpful with learning a foreign language because it also teaches you about the culture of the country.
Furthermore, being exposed to a lot of authentic materials while learning a language has massive benefits for learning outcomes. Your child will not only be able to learn the language but also how the language is used.
Finally, if you have a chance to travel, visit the country whose language your child is learning. This will give them a great chance to explore, see and touch what they could only see on TV. This means a lot, especially to a young and developing person.
When considering how to help your children learn a foreign language, always bear in mind that starting early is the best thing to do. The next best thing is showing support, but also understanding when the language-learning times are tough. Coming up with some interesting activities and being prepared for a lot of repetition can also help a ton. Be mindful and understanding and watch your toddler utter their first words in more than one language.
Merissa Moore loves traveling and understands the value of starting early with language learning. She loves traveling to European capitals and learning about their rich history. Medieval and Renaissance literature are two of her biggest passions.
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