Your children need your support to reach their language learning goals. Whether or not you are fluent in the target language, you can foster their progress by taking advantage of educational opportunities and cultivating a positive environment. The keys to language acquisition are continued practice and support.
Model the Importance of Learning
You might enroll your child in a dual immersion program at their school or help them learn Chinese online through one-on-one lessons with flexible class times. While starting their bilingual or multilingual journey at a young age increases their chances of becoming fluent in the desired languages, it doesn’t mean there will not be challenges. For example, dual immersion programs are beneficial, but they can come with a steep learning curve for some students. Some families may not speak both languages at home, making it difficult for the child to switch at school and meet goals in subjects taught in the less familiar tongue.
Children need encouragement and tangible reasons for learning a new language. Celebrate their efforts and teach them the benefits of being bilingual or multilingual. Focus on the benefits that have the most relevant impact on their lives. While fluency in multiple languages will help them stand out in the workforce, your six-year-old likely cares more about being able to communicate with their friends in new ways.
Parents must model the importance of language learning and education as a whole. You directly impact your children’s attitudes regarding their abilities; when you believe in them (and yourself), you teach them how to do the same. Your opinions about education and language learning also affect your child’s feelings and behaviors. When you are more open and positive about your experiences and actively listen to your child’s perspective, you help them thrive academically and socially. Showing an interest in your child’s learning fosters curiosity and motivation.
Practice makes progress, and language fluency is a tool that you must sharpen frequently. Unlike learning to ride a bike, language skills and recollection fade without practice. Your child needs exposure to the language outside of school hours. You can hire a tutor or If you’re looking to study a language online, there are numerous resources available that can help you on your language-learning journey. Online language courses offer convenience and flexibility, allowing you to learn at your own pace and from the comfort of your own home. Many platforms provide interactive lessons, exercises, and quizzes to enhance your language skills. Also, there are language learning apps and websites that offer vocabulary drills, grammar explanations, and even virtual language exchanges with native speakers. With the right tools and dedication, you can make significant progress in your language study online.
If you don’t speak the language fluently, it can be fun and rewarding for your children if you ask them to teach you a word or phrase every day. It gives them more practice and makes them proud of their accomplishments. You can also allow your child to flex their language skills in the real world. Language learning goes beyond vocabulary and grammar knowledge. To cultivate a more meaningful education, teach your child about the language’s associated culture(s). For example, if your child is learning Chinese, you can expose them to authentic Chinese cuisine and encourage them to communicate with restaurant employees or food vendors. You can also participate in community events celebrating the language’s culture and educating attendees.
Additionally, try reading to your child using stories in the chosen language. Research demonstrates that children have better learning outcomes when their parents read to them consistently.
Building a supportive work environment might be starting to sound a lot like a full-time teaching position. If you’re not homeschooling your child, you have the aid of teachers and tutors at your disposal. You can request resources to further your child’s progress at home; all parents can access libraries and online materials, like videos and language learning platforms.
Your child is another excellent resource. You can draw from activities relevant to their lives and cultures for beneficial dramatic play. For example, if your family visits bakeries often, you can encourage your child to “play” running a bakery. You can implement verbal mapping—describing what you or your child is doing to introduce new words in a meaningful context. They can learn vocabulary relevant to food, cooking, and customer service. These activities improve your child’s communication skills and demonstrate what the target language use looks like in everyday scenarios.
Parents must stand up for their children’s educational needs. You can advocate at the district and local government levels for language-learning programs, and in doing so, you help dispel myths regarding bilingualism and language acquisition standards.
Creating a supportive learning environment also means embracing adaptive teaching techniques; these are often project-based and promote cooperative learning. The philosophy behind adaptive teaching is that individuals do not learn in the same way or at the same pace, so instruction should reflect student-specific needs and learning preferences.
By taking a rapt interest in your child’s language learning and practicing with them at home, you create a supportive environment for them to thrive. Working with your child to set personal learning goals and clarifying expectations will keep them engaged for years to come.