In our increasingly globalized world where over 7,117 known languages are spoken, it’s becoming more important than ever to help your child become bilingual. Our friends at The Cultured Kid know that fluency doesn’t happen instantly; maybe your child isn’t speaking as much as you think they should, or perhaps you think they’ve fallen behind. We’re here to tell you not to worry! This post on language learning will help you understand that failure is a natural part of language acquisition and explain why speaking isn’t always the first step in reaching fluency. Take a breath, grab a seat, and read on to discover how children can best learn a second language.
Finding Out How Language Acquisition Works
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE
Your child won’t learn a new language instantly, and that’s perfectly normal! Failure is a natural part of the language acquisition process and making mistakes is a sign that your child is pushing themselves and getting outside of their comfort zone. Stay patient with your child as they start their language-learning journey and remember that the process is just as important as the reward.
IMMERSION IS KEY
Ditch the textbook! The Cultured Kid believes in immersing children in a language through interactive games, songs, and videos. This is both a fun and scientifically proven way to help a child achieve fluency. If you think that immersive learning is only possible if you live in a foreign country, think again. While moving to a foreign country is a wonderful adventure and a great way to learn a new language, it’s not a realistic scenario for most families. Luckily, there are many ways to get creative with immersion without even leaving your hometown:
- Learning vocab that applies to real life. Take note of the English words that your child uses every day and focus on learning those same words in their target language.
- Using Videos. Don’t be afraid to use videos and games as language learning tools! Introducing your child to TV shows or Youtube channels in their target language is a straightforward way to slowly incorporate more language learning into their day.
- Speaking in a low-stakes environment. Let your child know that it’s ok to make mistakes (as we mentioned before, it’s a good thing!). To build their confidence, encourage them to keep speaking.
GRAMMAR ISN’T THE FIRST STEP
Learning complicated grammar and mastering conjugations is not the first step in achieving fluency, so we recommend saving it for when your child has already mastered a significant portion of the target language and is interested in polishing their writing skills.
Listening is A Step To Language Learning Success
LISTENING IS A SIGN OF LEARNING
Before your child starts speaking a language, they have to do a lot of listening; so don’t worry if this process takes some time! Renowned linguists and scientists all over the world agree that listening is a key component of the language acquisition process. One of those linguists is Stephen Krashen, who provided a fresh and highly influential perspective on language acquisition by highlighting the importance of listening with his theory of comprehensible input.
According to Krashen, comprehensible input is when a language can be understood by learners, even if they don’t fully grasp all of the vocabulary or grammar being used (think about babies learning their first language!).
Examples of “input” include listening to stories read by native speakers or hearing everyday speech. An example of “output” would be when your young learner begins producing their own sentences. The next time you are worried about your child not speaking enough, remind yourself that input comes before output.
Studies have shown that when students hear stories in their target language, they acquire more language per unit time than when they study in a more formal setting; this is why The Cultured Kid incorporates storytimes into their language learning bundles.
The Cultured Kid features native speakers in each of their lesson plans to make sure that your child is hearing the language from its source; this helps them pick up on a new accent, engage with a language’s rhythm, and fully immerse themselves in the learning process. Here at TruFluency Kids, we also believe in connecting students with native speakers; check us out if you want your child to learn to SPEAK Spanish with other students!
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Language Learning Should Be Fun
KIDS LEARN WHEN THEY HAVE FUN
Sometimes we equate learning with staying serious and working endlessly, but fun and learning don’t have to be enemies; in fact, they should be the best of friends! At The Cultured Kid, fun is at the heart of learning, and science is too.
Research shows that, due to increased dopamine levels in the brain, young learners retain more information if they are having fun while learning.
Dr. Martha Burns, a neuroscientist and leading expert on language learning in children, has dedicated part of her career to exploring the effects of dopamine on information retention and regards dopamine as “the save” button. When a young learner creates dopamine during an experience, they are more likely to remember information for a longer period. So don’t hesitate to get playful with language acquisition, be it through a game, a fun video, or a family-friendly activity. Take note of how many times your child laughs or smiles during the language learning process; the happier they are while learning, the better.
The Cultured Kid Is Here To Help Young Learners Reach Fluency
Whether you are a homeschooling parent looking to add another language to your young learner’s curriculum or just a mom who wants to introduce some foreign vocab into your child’s day, you’ve taken a great first step in the language acquisition process. If your child needs more structure and support during their journey, The Cultured Kid is a great resource for this. They immerse children in their target language through play-based learning and help kids reach fluency while having fun. If you want to explore their flexible language offerings, check out their site to find out more!