Looking for a new challenge for your kids? In this article, Lucy from LEaF Translations shows you how easy it can be to get your kids learning a new language.
Learning a new language brings with it a whole host of benefits – from the actual ability to converse in a different tongue, to gaining an insight into a new culture (or cultures, depending on the language you pick); from a great new perspective on grammar (I basically learnt English grammar from studying German), to inspiration to travel to new countries.
With many children still not able to return to school and thoughts beginning to turn to the summer holidays and all the amazing places we are longing to travel to, now is a great time to encourage your kids to learn a new language and, if you have the time, for you to learn along with them.
And the best news? In today’s online world, it is super easy to find great resources to make language-learning real child’s play, in the most literal sense!
Here are some top tips to get your kids broadening their horizons and flexing their brains to learn a new language:
1) Discover a new country and culture The first step on your journey to learning a new language is to pick the language! Sit down with your kids, choose a language and take the opportunity to find out a bit about the country and the culture. You could find out about the main cities, landmarks, the capital, the flag, great places to go on holiday and so on. Learning a language takes a bit of dedication, so it is important to garner lots of enthusiasm for the task before you start. Making a connection to the country and its people is a great way to do it.
2) The Duolingo app Once you have chosen your language, download the free Duolingo app for a really easy and engaging way to learn. The app gives you the option of starting from scratch, or from picking up a language at an intermediate or even advanced level. It is a really great way to learn vocab, improve pronunciation and just learn language in a fun way. And, the best thing – the app is really intuitive to use, so kids can easily operate it by themselves.
3) Nursery rhymes There is a reason why we sing nursery rhymes to our kids over and over again when they are little: nursery rhymes are a great way to learn a language! Look up “nursery rhymes” in the relevant language on Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube etc. For example, if you are learning German, search for “Kinderreime”, for Spanish “canción infantil” and so on. (You can use an online dictionary, such as linguee.com to find the correct term for your language.) Then, pick your faves and play them on repeat! You will soon find yourselves singing along and picking up new words without even trying.
4) Peppa Pig – 21st century language teacher! Lots of the TV shows that our kids love are truly international. Although Peppa Pig was co-created by a guy who lives near York, Peppa, George and co. are loved around the world. The cartoon is currently available in around 40 different languages and many, if not all, of these versions are available on YouTube.
Simply search for “Peppa pig + [language]” on YouTube or enter the foreign-language name to find the show in your language of choice. Here are some examples: Cantonese: Peppa zhū (粉红猪小妹) Danish: Gurli Gris French: Peppa pig français German: Peppa Wutz Greek: Πέππα το Γουρουνάκι (Peppa the Little Pig) Italian: Peppa pig italiano Polish: Świnka Peppa Portuguese: A Porquinha Peppa Romanian: Purcelusa Peppa Russian: Свинка Пеппа Spanish: Peppa Pig español Welsh: Peppa pinc cymraeg
Foreign-language Peppa Pig is not just for kids. Even if you are not a fan of the show, watching Peppa Pig in a different language is a fantastic way to learn a new language. As the show is aimed at children, the language is simplified and there is a lot of repetition. Plus, the episodes are short, so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming.
Trust me, when it comes to learning a new language, Peppa Pig is your new best friend.
5) Go old school: mealtime discussions and post-it notes The final tip for helping your kids (and you) to learn a new language is rather old school. It involves practising the words you already know at mealtimes and using post-it notes to label anything and everything in your house!
If you aren’t familiar with the new language yourself, encourage your children to look up words for everyday household objects and to label them around your house. You can label the fridge, the cutlery drawer, your crockery cupboards and so on. You can get your kids to write out the names of the different rooms, to draw a picture of your family and label everyone (including pets).
If you already speak the language your children are learning, you can encourage them to practise at mealtimes. From responding to their questions in the language, to pointing out objects and saying them in the language. Mealtimes are a great opportunity to get some regular practice in and make it relevant. And it might even spur you on to brush up on your own language skills. Online dictionaries at the ready!
About the author: Lucy lives in York with her husband and two kids. When not watching Peppa Pig in random languages, Lucy can mostly be found running her York-based translation company, LEaF Translations.