It’s quite common nowadays for children to speak more than one language, and the earlier they’re exposed to different languages the quicker they’ll pick them up. But how can we help them learn a second language?
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Often they’ll learn from listening to their parents and other caregivers talking, and copying the sounds they hear. They might also be exposed to various languages at school. Read on for some tips on what you can do at home to help your child learn a second language.
Let their interests guide you
When children are interested in something, they’re more likely to want to learn about it. Take advantage of this by noticing what grabs your child’s attention and starting conversations about it in the second language; for example, if they show interest in a particular toy, show enthusiasm for it yourself and encourage them to describe the toy or how it makes them feel. Discussing something they’re interested in will make it more likely your child will absorb and retain the new language.
Expose them to the second language as much as possible
Speak in the second language at home frequently and encourage your child to as well. You can talk about an activity you’re doing together or sing songs in the language. Another option is to put movies or TV programmes on for them which speak in the language so they can start associating things they see on the screen with certain sounds and words.
You might find it helpful to enrol your child in formal language lessons to give them a head start or if they’re finding the process of learning a language difficult. English language tuition can help children for whom English is a second language to feel more comfortable speaking with their peers and teachers at school, which might boost their academic performance. Structured language lessons might work best for some children rather than casual learning – it will depend on your child’s personality and unique learning style.
Making it fun will help them learn a second language
Make use of toys and games that help children learn languages. When it comes to reading, encourage your child to read widely in the second language, or if they’re not yet able to read you can read them books or come up with your own stories using the language. When they’re having fun they won’t even realise they’re learning and may retain new words and
phrases more easily.
You can help your child learn a second language at any age, but doing it as early as possible will make speaking two languages a normal thing for them as they grow up.
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