How do I start teaching my child another language, even if I don’t speak fluently, in a fun way?
30 November 2020
We often feel a great deal of pressure on us to get things right or to not be seen to make mistakes. In this world of social media and virtual relationships, we tend to have a skewed vision of reality. Learning a language however involves absolutely making mistakes and simply letting go of our inhibitions, something few of us naturally feel comfortable doing. Fortunately children of 3 years of age don’t have this issue and they will simply not judge you if you mispronounce one word here or there! So if you are keen to teach your child something new, then you are half way there already.
Enthusiasm, a sense of fun and discovering your playful self is key.
So from my humble experience of raising a bilingual family, the journey really starts with play.
One type of play which never gets old is “role-play”. It really is so simple, all you need is a few cuddly toys, yourselves and your imagination! Something a toddler has by the bucket load…
So an idea you can try at home is to designate one of your child’s toys as a foreign language speaker, give them a name, preferably typical of the country they came from. For example, Henri for French and José for Spanish. Start off slowly. You could introduce your character to other toys in the collection by teaching the basic greetings, Bonjour, Hola, Ciao etc…If the child repeats this over and over again, they will retain the new vocabulary and so begins their language learning journey!
You can start to add new words perhaps by showing the toy some animals and the child learns the words in the target language, perhaps the type of food they like to eat, if they have a favourite colour, how they feel, happy, sad, excited. You could even play hide and seek with the toy and name the room the toy is in, in the language you choose.
A simple game that starts with “Bonjour” can develop into a great exercise in discovering new words and expressions. Have fun and bonne chance!