Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How To Make Language Learning Come Alive

I love teaching Spanish to children and making the language come alive is an important part of their development. Through my experiences as an educator and a mom, I have found one of the most successful keys to language teaching and learning is to keep things relevant to the child’s life.

Play based immersion allows the parent to weave the language into everyday activities and tasks, thus enabling the child to make easy connections. For example, when my children were very little, we sang all of the time, did finger plays, and played with their baby toys in the target language. Now that they are ages 5 and 7, their interests have changed. My husband and I focus on keeping their language development alive with activities that are interesting and relevant to them. We play lots of board games, guessing games, Pictionary, and charades in Spanish. My daughter loves her American Girl dolls and accessories; therefore we often have fashion shows and make believe parties with her dolls where she has to describe them, their outfits, where they are going, etc. My son is a Superhero fanatic. We use lots of action words when we play with his ‘guys’. We have so many of them and their outfits are so colorful, that we easily practice color and number reinforcement with them. All the while we are playing, my children are hearing the language, as we ask questions, make up stories, etc. Their comprehension and fluency is enhanced through these simple activities that are fun and important to them.

Here are some fun, easy ideas that you can do at home to help your child learn Spanish:

*Write their English spelling words in Spanish and put them in sentences.

• Watch movies in Spanish.

• Listen to Spanish language music while in the car.

• Play online games together that allow the children to hear and read Spanish.

• Play I Spy while waiting at a restaurant, doctor’s office, etc.

• Read together in Spanish. Ask comprehension questions after the story.

• Play Caliente/Frio by hiding an item and have kids give you commands to find it.

• Look at family photos and talk about descriptions of relatives, what their names are, where they live.

• Read recipes or directions on the back of products.

• Cook a recipe and prepare a dish in Spanish. Have children help you find items in kitchen while giving commands in Spanish.

• Participate in imaginary play with your children. This is a great opportunity for vocabulary rich conversation practice. Play House, Doctor, Police, etc.

The ideas are endless, but as long as you keep things fun, simple, and relevant to your child's life, the language learning will come alive!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February is Discover Languages Month!

The American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages has a fantastic campaign going on this month... Discover Languages! Visit the ACFL site for more information about the campaign and about learning languages.

There are SO many reasons to learn a language! Here are a few of our reasons we think it is important. Please feel free to tell us your reasons too!

1. To enhance your cognitive skills.
2. To enrich your life and learn about other cultures.
3. To give yourself a leading edge in the academic world.
4. To give yourself a leading edge in the professional world.
5. To improve your problem solving skills and mental flexibility.
6. To make travelling easier.
7. To communicate with neighbors and members of your community.
8. To have fun and to open your world to new ways of communication.

Why do you think it is important to learn other languages?