The world is becoming smaller and smaller every day. With the Internet, quick travel, and global cities that host people from all across the world there’s one tool that can set anyone apart from the rest as they try to find their career success – speaking more than one language. Kids learn fast, and taking advantage of this time to give them exposure to one or several other languages can dramatically enhance the way they think, connect with others, process information, problem solve, and fit into a multi-cultural world. Kids who speak more than one language often feel more confident with communication and have an easier time adapting to changing environments and interconnectedness in school and eventually in the workplace – not to mention how amazing it looks on a resume!
Today, I’m going to share some fun, simple, and a couple of free ways for you to bring Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, or any other language you want into your home! It’s a great way to learn – and you can be as casual or serious about it as you want. Keeping It Simple If you just want to have fun, try having a word of the day. Get a white board and write the word out in English, its native script, phonetically, and with a definition. Make it a goal as a family to use that word often during the day – and try not to use the word in your native language all day long! Start with words that are common and easy. Foods, feelings, directions, questions, colors, and numbers are all great places to start. You can find simple guides for free online, or grab and English translation dictionary and open up a random page each day.
In time, your kids will have a good grasp of words and pronunciation and will be primed for formal classes or more structured lessons. Go Big! If you want to jump in, try immersion classes which tend to be very effective for young kids. In these classes, the new language is the only one that’s spoken and kids just pick it up as they go along. You can also check out movies in the new language, YouTube videos, DVDs, books on tape, and community classes (which tend to be a lot more affordable than some of the other options). For languages that are more common in the USA like Spanish, most schools offer an optional/elective that your kids can take. Get them excited about it now and you’ll see them really excited about signing up once school begins! How To Learn
Here are some simple and affordable ways to help bring a new language into your home… YouTube Search for language lessons on YouTube. You may be surprised to find out just how many high-quality videos are out there that are in-depth and really easy to learn from. You can find Welsh to Swahili and everything in between! Library Use your local library as a resource for books, tapes, and DVDs. There are tons of language programs out there, and many local libraries will even stock popular learning programs like Rosetta Stone. Eat Out If you can find an ethnic restaurant in your community that represents the language you want to learn, support them! Menus are a great way to learn new words, and servers are often happy to teach a few words or respond to being told ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ in their native tongue. Get Cultured Many communities have cultural festivals or centers where your family can learn languages, festivals, and histories in a hands-on way. Watch local papers for upcoming events, or check with your City and County Department for an events calendar. Are your kids multi-lingual? Why did they learn, and what did you find to be the most effective way to teach them?