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You are here: Family Issues > Raising Bilingual children

Ideas for Teaching Children to Speak Another Language

There is no one way to teach a child to speak another language. However, there are things you can do to help that learning take place. Everyone is intelligent in different ways (Using the Theory of Multiple Intelligences). Here are some ideas of how to incorporate those intelligences with teaching a child a new language.

  1. Let children learn by doing actions themselves, whether it be playing house or running. You can talk about what you are doing in the target language.
  2. Use flashcards with pictures to reinforce sounds (i.e., B is for Ball with a picture of a ball).
  3. Make learning fun. The more children enjoy doing it, the more they will want to learn. People better remember things when emotion is associated with it (e.g., enjoyment attached to learning).
  4. Include music because it uses the whole brain. Music helps us remember what we learn.
  5. Use movement and rhythm to reinforce learning. We learn more when we move, so encourage your child to move in rhythm while learning another language.
  6. Link words and numbers playfully. We learn more when we can connect new information to something else, whether it be to previous information or to some kind of rhythm or action. [I can still count in French from 25 years ago because I would count to a rhythm while counting my cards for a Dutch Blitz game.]
  7. Provide reflection time. Kids need time to absorb a language before speaking it.
  8. Use taste in learning a new language by eating foods and naming them in the target language.
  9. Involve the sense of smell by introducing smells and naming them in the target language.
  10. Set up speaking "dates." Once kids have started speaking a new language, they can start speaking to each other (i.e., talking together during a meal).
  11. Don't limit yourself to what is in your house or classroom. Introduce vocabulary in the target language as you explore the world around you.

The information above was taken from Earlychildhood NEWS's  "Can Preschool Children Be Taught a Second Language."