The guys at One Third Stories asked us to share some of our ideas for the best ways to get kids engaged with language learning. So, here are just a few of the things we use in our family.
Food is a great way to get the kids interested. Oma in Germany sends food parcels to us so we can make soup and other family favourites together following instructions in German. It’s a souper language learning activity!
Sometimes, we hahttps://lingotastic.co.uk/2015/souper-language-learning/ve these yummy chocolate biscuits that have a picture of a famous building in Germany, France, Spain, or Belgium on. The kids (and adults!) can only have one if they say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ in that language.
It’s great practice for when we go abroad and encourage our children to read menus and order in that language. It’s amazing how quickly they pick up new words when it benefits them!
There are many festivals that you can look at with your family that provide a cultural context for language learning. We celebrated Chinese New Year together in February and learned a little bit of Mandarin.
There always lots to go to around Christmas time too. We celebrated St Nicholas’ day with other German speaking families and then learned a little bit of Swedish at a St Lucia celebration.
We love Asterix in my house and, luckily for us, the most recent films haven’t been in English. That means the kids have had to watch them in German which has been great for improving their language skills.
We also watch some German DVDs with German or English subtitles switched on. Netflix can often be a good source of foreign entertainment too!
Friends and family
As our children got older, they often felt like the odd ones out speaking anything other than English at home. But as we met other families who spoke German as well as English they started to see that their bilingual life was completely normal. It also meant there were suddenly plenty of people to swap books and DVDs with.
Arranging to meet with other bilingual children is one of the best ways to help your kids use their other language. Just playing games in the park can make for great language practice, not to mention the social benefits.
Playing a game like UNO in another language is a great way to practice vocabulary. Or, for counting practice, try Snakes and Ladders or Ludo.
That’s without even thinking about all the electronic games that can be set up in other languages! My son used to play Fifa on his Play Station in German.
There are also lots and lots of online language games like Cat Spanish, Duolingo, and Memrise just to name a few (I could write a whole blog just on this!). Youtube is also a great source of entertaining content in many languages.
For more ideas, have a read of these ‘language learning tips from a seven year old’ written by our Emily.
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