I was recently contacted by a parent who had some great advice to pass along to those of us on this crazy language learning journey. Read her words of wisdom and keep in mind that teaching your child a second language takes a risk and sometimes you have to “think outside” of the box and not be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new!
I came up with these tips along the way as I’ve been helping my children learn foreign languages. Mostly they are from my own experience over the past two years. Helping your child to learn a new language is no small task, so I think it may be helpful to know of the hurdles you may have to cross along the way.
1.) Make mistakes. I think there can be a fear that we will make some mistakes. Maybe we worry that we will say something incorrectly if it’s not our native language. Or if we teach our child an incorrect word or grammar structure, then it will be permanent. Please brush these worries and fears aside if you have them! Kids are very, very adaptable, and even if there are mistakes, they will be corrected with time! Even in their own native tongue, kids make mistakes regularly! How many three-year-olds say “he” instead of “she” or misuse verbs and tense? Every child goes through this process, and it simply takes time to work through.
2.) Make an investment. It can be time or money– they’re really one in the same. You might have to find language programs, schools or tutors. You might have to buy books, movies, or music.
You may have to invest your own time in helping your child do homework or language activities.
No matter the kind of investment, it all has the same end goal: to help your child fully engage with their target language. They will not learn it if there is no investment.
3.) Go far for resources. Whether from your computer purchasing materials from across the globe, or finding tutors or resources in your city or state, you may need to spend time searching for resources to help your child learn a language. I have ordered books from Amazon Canada if I couldn’t find them in the United States. I also found a foreign language library that takes an hour for us to drive to in order to rent books. Since foreign language is not always a priority everywhere in the U.S., especially if you don’t live in or near a big city, you won’t necessarily have all the resources within minutes of your house. Don’t be afraid to spend the time and the effort to find the resources your child may need.
4.) Make sacrifices. Maybe you will luck out and not have to make many sacrifices for your child’s language journey! But sometimes, sacrifices have to happen, even on the parent’s end. One of mine is quite small, but I have to sacrifice my music preferences in the car! We only listen to foreign children’s music in the car 😉 But other sacrifices are bigger. Some parents might be concerned or intimidated about their child knowing a language that they do not; perhaps it’s the worry that their child will be smarter than them or could even keep secrets from them. That is certainly a sacrifice to be made for the education of the child. Many Asian parents have to sacrifice their Saturdays for “Saturday school” in their child’s target language.
Giving up a weekend day every week is surely a sacrifice for both parent and child. Big or small, sometimes we have to give up our desires or our time for our child to succeed, and that is certainly something to think about as you start the process.
What things would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below or always feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂