Summer is the perfect time to introduce your child to a new language, or to continue to build on his/her language skills. Research shows that children who learn a second language develop better cognitive skills, improved understanding of different cultures, and advanced social-emotional skills – all on top of developing a skill that can eventually give your child a leg up in an increasingly competitive and interconnected world.
We asked our teachers for tips on how to have a fun, effective and immersive experience this summer. These tips do not depend on parents to provide the language support, and there is something here for every age! Here is what they had to say:
1. Find a native speaker to speak with – this can be a neighbor, relative, or someone who is part of the community. The important thing is to make speaking a habit. Don’t worry about understanding everything and don’t try to be perfect. Language learning is about taking risks and enjoying connecting with others.
2. Find a TV program – there are more quality programs available in other languages available through the internet for children. Sometimes you can find DVD’s of popular TV programs in another language, such as Thomas the Tank Engine in Mandarin or Spanish. The important thing is to ensure that the entire soundtrack is in the second language without having a mix of English and the second language.
3. Watch a movie – with the internationalization of popular children’s movies you can find most any movie in multiple languages. If you find a movie your child enjoys, chances are he/she will watch it over and over. This is perfect for language learning!
4. Find Youtube videos – there is so much variety in all different lengths to explore on YouTube. Some are dubbed TV programs, others are stories being read in another language. On the HudsonWay Immersion School Youtube channel there are lessons uploaded featuring things such as “How to Bake a Cake” or movement activities. All taught by our native speaking teachers! And they are free to view!
5. Travel to places where the language is spoken – if you can travel, this is one of the best ways to learn a second language. Commit to staying in the second language and see your skills soar!
6. Read books or e-books – if no one in the family speaks the second language, find an e-book that is narrated. Follow along to train your ear and develop your language comprehension. If you are a beginner, a picture book is helpful scaffolding to develop your comprehension. Sites such as Scholastic.com, and audible.com have selections of e-books.
7. Explore language apps – there are an increasing number of apps to help support language learners of all ages. Some have games, some are flashcards, and some have conversations of real live situations that you can follow and track progress on understanding and vocabulary level.
8. Listen to a radio – when you might be in the car, or relaxing at home, put on the radio and listen to music or people speaking in another language. You may not pick up everything but if you make it a habit you will notice that your comprehension will increase over time.
9. Write in a journal – summer is great for day-dreaming, and keeping those thoughts in a journal. You’ll find that searching for words to write your thoughts will develop your vocabulary, grammar and confidence if you do it each and every day.
10. Sign up for an immersion class or tutoring – summer affords us the time to enjoy a more immersive experience in language learning. Many schools have online or onsite immersion camps where children learn about a subject taught entirely in a second language for hours at a time. HudsonWay Immersion School features an online camp for children ages 3-17 divided by age and level. Students learn a particular theme all while practicing listening, speaking, reading and writing!
So, take this opportunity to keep your children engaged and learning this summer! Perhaps these will become habits that carry on into the school year and result in a new skill that will enrich your child’s world!