Kids, in general, have a few things in common; cartoons, toys, and gadgets (smartphone/ tablet). We can use these 3 things to get a child interested in language learning in the most natural way possible.
This article is a 2 series article that will be centered around the topic of how to make children interested in learning a second language. I will be using English as an example of children learning a second language. So, all instances will be based on that.
Most cartoons are in English (it differs based on where you live). Every single kid has their own favorite cartoon, be it a cartoon they watch on TV or in a form of a book such as a comic book. Here are a few things you can do after they’ve finished watching:
- Ask them if they understood what today’s episode is about.
- Ask them to list out all the words they’ve heard. It doesn’t matter if it’s only one or two words. The reason is to see if your children pay attention to what they watch or hear.
- Ask them if they know the meaning of the word they said. If not, you can tell them what it means.
- Ask them to write down the word on a piece of paper or even better prepare a book just for that so they can revise it anytime they want. You can guide them to write with the correct spelling.
Pretty much all kids have toys and/or dolls. So, why not start with that. Ask them what kind of toy cars is it, what types of dolls, the size, and the color, and so on and so forth. Rather than buying your kids random toys whenever they see one, buy them educational toys instead.
Buying kids’ toys certainly have advantages and it’s not a complete waste of money or useless. So, don’t be afraid to make an investment in your kid’s future. This by no means also serves as a form of early education for your kids before they start school.
Gadgets (Smartphone/ Tablet)
It would be true to say that, nowadays children have been exposed to gadgets at such an early age. I remembered watching a discussion about the topic “Digital nanny” where the guests were talking about how children are spending more time with gadgets than their parents.
Also how some of them indirectly substitute themselves with the gadget and let it teaches their children a few of the vital aspects in their child growth.
They let the gadget do the work knowing that it can stimulate children’s thinking and whatever good reason that comes along with it.
Are you one of these parents? I’m not saying you should ban your children from playing with gadgets. As a matter of fact, exposing your kids to gadgets undoubtedly has benefits.
However, as Augustine said “there cannot be good without bad” Parents should and must discipline their children. Be firm but fair. Meaning, you can let your child play with the gadget, but schedule time for it like once or twice a week.
Kids love playing with gadgets, game apps to be exact. If not browsing cartoons via YouTube (like my nephews). Another way to make it beneficial is you can balance the time they play with the gadget with language learning.
Before allowing them to play with it, set a rule for them to follow. For example, the time learning a language is equal to the time playing the gadget. So, if they learn a language for an hour, you’ll let them play for an hour also. The language which they will be learning would be the compulsory language subject they study at school.
The third option may not seem natural because it looks like we are restraining them from playing with it and force them to follow the rule, however, this is for their own good as at that age they may not see yet the importance of learning a second language.
The next post will be about how to make language learning fun and enjoyable for students in the classroom. Should you have any methods you’re using at home feel free to share them with us below.
This Post Has 4 Comments
I wish my teachers had the benefit of reading your article before they tried to teach us! Kids are like sponges but you have to get their attention and make it worth their while. I learned Latin for two years by sitting at a desk and watching my Latin teacher write declensions on the black board! Now I remember one word Regina – which I think means Queen 🙂 Watching TV is a good technique to expose learners to new words. When I was in Spain, I used to listen to the radio and watch TV to try and pick up phrases and get my ears attuned to the flow of the language. These are fabulous tips that will help capture the interest of anyone looking to learn a new language.
Yeah, even adults can lose their attention easily 😀 I have done my teaching practice last year and learned a lot from it. Now that I have experienced being both a student and a teacher, I know from a student perspective, what a teacher should and should not do when teaching, what method should they use, etc. In my opinion, there is no better method than to connect students with their interest when learning a new language.
I am learning Spanish at the moment and I have tried podcasts, but have not tried listening to the radio and reading newspaper yet. I am more into the TV kind of person =) Maybe I will give it a try. Anyways, thanks for great comments. I am glad you find it useful.
This article is very interesting to me being that we speak two languages in our household. My wife is an American and I am Danish. Living here in the US, my son, of course, is great at English being 4 years old but struggle a bit with the Danish part. He understands 50% of basic commands I will say in Danish, and he also has some favorite Danish words he will use instead of English, but he always replies back in English, because that is what he is comfortable with.
I agree with finding cartoons, apps and toys that speak in the language you are trying to teach as a great tool when they can’t hear it being spoken between other people in the household. I think the hardest thing for us who want to teach them the second language is being consistent with it. It is easy to give in and just to let them stick with English for example.
Great article, look forward to reading the next one.
I cannot imagine how hard it is to raise a kid to be bilingual. I once watched a reality TV show where the parents are a mix of Korean and Japanese. Although the daughter was born in Japan the father wishes his daughter to continue to speak in both languages despite living in Japan.
The interesting part is her wife is also interested in learning Korean that sometimes she would compete with her daughter just to see who is better at that language and his husband would become the judge 😀
I think this is one of the best ways to be consistent. Another way you can do is to get your son to only speak Danish with you say for a couple of weeks or months just so he can familiarize himself with it.