Friday, February 3, 2012

Children and Language Learning

If you have children, then you're probably already very aware that they're growing up in a world that is likely to be much tougher than the one in which you grew up. Globalisation, population growth and economic change means that there is increasing competition for resources and that people will need to be willing to move around the world in order to really compete. If you want to give your children a head start in this competitive world, then you need to make sure that they have the language skills to engage with it. And that needs to start at a young age.

young children learning

Language Learning on Holiday

Holidays can be a great opportunity to add to your children's language skills. You could start by booking them on to a language course while you are on holiday: not only would a course be a good chance for them to learn language, it would be a good way for them to make some new friends too. If you have family connections abroad and want your children to learn the language of the country in which your family live, then make sure you take regular holidays there. Family members are usually very happy to help out with a little informal language teaching. While you're on holiday, take opportunities to casually reinforce learning without making it seem like a chore – if make it seem like work, you risk turning them off. For example, get them to read menus and order their own food in restaurants and cafes; ask them to read any signs or posters you see around; and generally encourage interactions with locals. In particular, encourage them to play with local children in the park or on the beach.

learning to write

Language Learning at Home

Language learning while on holiday is fun, but if you really want your children to become bi-lingual, then you need to do all you can to make sure they learn at home. If you or your partner speaks another language, then speak it while at home to your children: they'll quickly pick up the basics and learn to speak it back to you. Also look at courses your children can try. After-school, weekend and holiday courses all run at various colleges (such as the French courses London college St Georges run). See what would suit your lifestyle and then choose a course on that basis. If you can find local cultural groups, they might be a good source of more informal language learning. If your children can mix with native French or Chinese kids, then they're likely to pick up their language. Support any learning done out of the home with home-based learning. The internet is a great resource, with many free language learning games and activities available. Also look for DVDs and books with plenty of enjoyable exercises to keep them interested. Older and more advanced learners might enjoy downloading TV and radio programmes in their chosen language, or using social networking sites such as Twitter in the language they're learning.


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