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Tips on Incorporating a Foreign Language into your Child's Routine

by Rebecca Gold 20 May 2020

For Americans, generally speaking, there was once a time when knowing more than one language was considered exotic and a serious advantage. For other parts of the world, like in Europe, for example, a more globalized mindset, more economic openness and more fluidity across borders has fomented an environment in which many children are brought up bilingual or trilingual. 

Nowadays, it’s a great idea to teach your kids or expose them to new languages regardless of where you live. Whether it’s to be able to talk to people who speak other languages in your family or friends circle or if they will one day travel abroad or do a foreign exchange program, it can only give them a leg up. Plus, learning languages is much easier at younger ages, so if your child is still young, it is the perfect time to have them learn! 

If you’re already going to be spending extra time at home, this can be a great activity to help them come out of extended periods of time at home having acquired new skills. Here are some tips to introduce your child to a new language at home. 


Use TV Shows and Youtube Series

There are plenty of shows out there that are kid-friendly that can start exposing your child to a new language. Audio or media for learning a new language isn’t going to be as effective as having them learn in an in-person setting, but it’s still a good start to start conditioning their ear. Some shows are bilingual like for example Dora the Explorer is mostly in English with some Spanish vocabulary thrown in. More Spanish bilingual shows include Go, Diego, Go!, Nina’s World, Pocoyo and Handy Manny. There’s Anime like Tofugu for Japanese, Masha and the Bear and Caillou for French and more. You can also find shows dubbed over in the target language on networks like Netflix.


Play Music in a Foreign Language

In addition to shows and tv, you can search for music in the target language and make it a habit to play it in your home regularly. Music is universal - it transcends language barriers! Find music your child likes in the target language. To add an extra step or enrichment, you can dive into the lyrics, looking up what they mean and translating them, line by line. This is actually how the singer Shakira claims to have learned English - dissecting American poetry and song lyrics!


Use Post-It Notes

To help with vocabulary for everyday items, try writing the words for things like “fridge” “cabinets” “sofa” “tv” “computer” “stove” and more on post-it notes and post them around the house. This will be like flashcards that never move - they’re constantly on the thing they represent! It will help everyone in the house learn. Encourage them to say the words out loud every time they, say, want to sit down on the couch, open the and close the fridge, turn the stove on or off, open the cabinets, etc.


Subscribe to Youtube Courses

Whether it’s a formal course or a Youtube channel that provides free lessons, there are TONS of online resources to help you learn. Find a time to have your child sit down and dedicate time to learning from the videos. Better yet, get involved yourself if you don’t already know the language and learn alongside them! It will be a great way for the two of you to bond over learning a new skill. You’ll have fun using the language together and seeing your progress over time!

Utilize Language Apps

Many kids nowadays use apps on their tablet already. Make it a part of your child’s routine to spend time using language learning apps like Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, Little Pim and more. Do a quick Google search on some other language learning apps for kids, download a few and see which one your child vibes with more. 

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