Children are often taught at least one foreign language at school in order to prepare them for a future career and lifestyle in which they can benefit from knowing more than one language. Knowing a second language and other foreign languages has in fact become extremely important especially when considering a career. More and more employers are looking for candidates with bilingual and multilingual capabilities and people who know foreign languages can easily travel and experience new cultures.
It has also become quite easy to teach children a foreign language even before they begin to go to school, introducing it from a young age through the use of language apps, books, songs, games and many other tools. Once children begin learning a foreign language in school there are also many ways to help them practice at home, such as hiring a foreign speaking au pair or having them listen to foreign audiobooks on their commute to school or after school activity.
A great resource parents can resort to in order to teach their children a foreign language at home are interactive language apps like Babbel. These kinds of apps provide interactive and intuitive language courses for people of any age and they usually carry a wide selection of languages and options: for example with Babbel, you and your kids could even start learning Portuguese for free.
Reading is also an excellent way to introduce a foreign language. While children are still young reading to them in a foreign language slowly introduces the language and once children are old enough to read on their own having them read by themselves ensures they continuously absorb the language in a natural and consistent way.
Similarly, listening to songs in a foreign language even in the background will slowly ensure that children pick up on the language and begin singing along to the words. Many schools for example use songs as a way to teach a language to young children, as it provides a fun and exciting way to learn.
Games also provide a fantastic interactive way for children to learn and pick up a foreign language. Use screen time to your advantage by allowing your children to play their favorite games in this language or even try playing some of these games together.
Similarly, having your children watch movies in the foreign language helps them slowly and naturally pick up the language and correct accent. Start slowly by showing the movie in the foreign language with the subtitle in your child’s native language. Then switch to showing the movie in the foreign language with foreign subtitles and then removing the subtitles all together. There are also many videos that can easily teach children the language.
The use of audiobooks is also a wonderful way to learn and is perfect for on-the-go learning. Have your children listen to an audiobook on their way to school, for a few hours after school or even on their way to their favorite activity. Ask them to give feedback on the audiobook or share feedback in the story in the foreign language.
Having a foreign Au Pair is a very effective way to introduce your children to a new language. Speaking a foreign language in a child’s home environment helps them pick up the language naturally and learn key phrases used on a everyday basis. Have the au pair slowly shift to speaking only in the foreign language. If you speak a foreign language yourself, make sure to speak it around the house with them. This is especially effective if done since the beginning, for example the one person-one language technique, known as OPOL, has proven very effective in raising bilingual children.
Providing fun and stimulating ways to learn a foreign language from a young age ensure your children grow up bilingual or multilingual. Knowing one or more foreign languages is extremely important nowadays as it sets people up for success in the long run. Employers are always looking to hire people with foreign language skills so that they can provide a global perspective and interact with many people across the globe. It’s also a wonderful skill to have and makes travelling and meeting new people from all over the world exciting!
** written in collaboration with Emily Jones **