You want the best for your child and you know being bilingual is an exceptional benefit for them. But how do you make language learning fun and effective for young children? The answer is easier than you may realize. By incorporating fun, creative, and relevant activities to your children’s daily lives, the language learning will happen naturally.
As a mom of bilingual children, and an educator of many, I have many great activities that really do the trick. Whether you are a parent fluent in a second language, or perhaps merely learning yourself, there are many ways you can enhance your development. Research continually shows the benefits of learning multiple ages at a young age, when the brain is pliable and languages are easily absorbed. With that in mind, here are few easy activities that you can do at home to get your children involved and speaking:
• Play I Spy as a means of reinforcing colors. Play it in different rooms, so that children have varied exposure to different environments and objects.
• Sorting favorite toys by color/number. This is a favorite with my 3 year old. We sort Super Heroes by the color of their boots or capes. Then we count them in the target language. Chose a group of toys that the kids frequently play with, so you are using familiar objects ( stuffed animals, dolls, crayons, hair bows, play doh jars, etc)
• Clothing reinforcement. Dressing dolls or stuffed animals is a great way to practice clothing vocabulary. Pretend to go on a trip. Give kids a duffel bag and tell them to find certain clothing items in their drawers and closets. Silly dress up is another favorite with my kids. I give them instructions in Spanish about putting on silly combinations of clothing and they love to look in the mirror when they are finished. I then have them tell me what they are wearing.
• Charades: use easy picture vocabulary and have children act out the description. Give guesses in the target language, then switch and have the children give the answers.
• Sing and Dance. Using upbeat music, movement, and rhythmic activities is certain way to make the language come alive. Play fun music and do the ‘Freeze Dance”. When the music stops, have kids freeze and count to 10 , 20 etc in the target language. Give a variety of commands to do until the music stops (jump, march, crawl, dance, etc) Be sure to give commands in the target language. Go to your local library or check online for the many good resources for children’s music in foreign languages.
• Body Parts. Play Simon Says with body parts. Practice at bathtime. Use the target language when you are washing certain body parts. With older children, use Magna Doodles or white boards to practice ‘Pictionary” type games. They draw the body part and your guess, and then switch roles.
The ideas really are endless. Just remember these ingredients: FUN, REPETITION, RELEVANCY and you will be amazed at your child’s bilingual development!
Founder, The Bilingual Fun Company
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