Of course, learn a new language, for example, like Mandarin Chinese, is quite challenging. If your child is learning another language, and maybe they speak that language better than you. Whether they’re learning at school or taking online language classes, the task of living up to their teacher can seem tough!
But learning a language isn’t just about having a knowledgeable teacher, it’s about having a good environment and strong support network – and lucky for you, you’re just the person to provide these. So read on below to learn about some ways you can be a part of your child’s language learning journey.
Think outside the house:
Whether your child is learning Chinese, French, German, or Spanish, there’s bound to be somewhere around town where your child can get some practice in.
Take them to a Chinese restaurant and buy them their favorite dish – but only if they can place the order in Chinese! This creates both a challenge and a reward, two important parts of a successful lesson. You can take it a step further by putting yourself in the shoes of the clueless tourist, letting your child take the lead in helping you order a dish to your taste using their second language skills.
International grocery stores are also great places to get a bit of extra practice. Imported foods and beverages will usually have ingredient lists in the target language, and lucky for you, your child is there to help you make heads and tails of them. While you’re getting some grocery shopping done, they’re working on their food vocabulary.
If you live in a city with a bustling international community, don’t shy away from Chinatown or Little Italy when running errands, while you get your chores done, the people there are sure to provide some excellent authentic language practice and cultural immersion for your child.
Practicing at home:
If you don’t live in an area with a strong international community, or if getting out of the home isn’t too practical at the moment, no problem! Getting involved in your child’s second language practice at home is a piece of “蛋糕” (cake)!
If you haven’t already done so, buy some (age and level appropriate) television series and movies and watch them with your child. After watching, talk about what you just saw and how you interpret what happened. If you didn’t understand, it’s not a problem; you don’t have to be right! In fact, by making mistakes, whether intentional or not, you’re giving your child an opportunity to correct you and feel empowered by their language abilities.
Game nights are another great way to get involved along with the rest of the family. Many classic board games will have versions targeted at speakers of other languages, and by using them instead of their English-language versions, you’re contributing to a more immersive language learning environment. And since you (probably) already know the rules, you’re not going to struggle too much. As your child becomes more proficient in the language, consider exploring games that are new to you, and let them explain the rules.
You don’t have to be a rockstar teacher or a language master to help your child learn and practice a foreign language. Get creative and use your environment to your advantage, and you’ll be helping them in ways their teachers or online tutors never could.
Know any other creative ways to get involved in your child’s language learning? Share with us in the comments below!