It’s no secret that bilingualism is becoming more common among today’s children. Learning a second language at a young age can contribute to cognitive and social-emotional development, accelerate learning and nurture appreciation for diversity. But, how can you teach a foreign language to your preschooler without drills, studying and additional work?
At Primrose, our Balanced Learning® approach incorporates Spanish learning throughout daily curriculum lessons. But second language acquisition isn’t limited to the classroom – it’s easy to practice through play-based activities at home! Here are tips from experts Anna Hall, Lynn Louise Wonders and Dr. Gloria Julius to help expand your child’s second language learning at home:
- Let learning happen naturally. Avoid pressuring your children to study, practice or learn new words. Instead, try incorporating simple second language activities for preschoolers into your daily routine. Trying singing songs or reciting nursery rhymes in another language, watch bilingual TV shows and movies together, and play board games that include two languages.
- Encourage your child to be the teacher. One of the best ways for a child to truly learn something is to help teach someone else. Ask your little one to give you a lesson based on what he’s learned in the classroom – and you’ll boost his confidence in the process!
- Use positive reinforcement. Provide positive encouragement when your child makes an effort to learn or practice her second language, using reflective statements like, “Wow! You must have been paying very close attention to the lesson to remember that!” or “It’s amazing that you know how important it is to practice.”
- Create journals together. Join your child in their foreign language journey and start learning (or refreshing) your own multilingual skills! Learn new words with your child and then create journals together of the new vocabulary you’ve absorbed.
- Read together. Bilingual books can expand your child’s vocabulary and help them develop an awareness and appreciation of different cultures. They either provide side-by-side text (parallel text) or intersperse non-English words throughout the story. Here are some great English/Spanish books to read with your child:
When it comes to encouraging your child to learn a second language, the most important thing is to keep it fun. Good luck – or buena suerte!