To young children, the world can seem relatively small, so exposing them to new cultures and languages is one way to begin broadening their perspective. Acquisition of a second language early in life is easier and according to research enhances brain development and literacy development. It can also encourage a curiosity and appreciation for different cultures of the world.
As part of our commitment to providing a well-rounded early childhood education with our Balanced Learning® approach, Primrose Schools includes Spanish-language learning with daily lessons in Preschool through Kindergarten classrooms. Our Mucho Mundo® program introduces vocabulary related to weekly themes, music and simple conversation.
Establishing a school-to-home connection to reinforce learning another language can be an intimidating task, especially if you have little or no experience in speaking another language. Here are a few ways that can make it easier to introduce a second language into your home:
Learn some key phrases. If your child is learning a second language at school, talk with his teacher to find out what vocabulary is being introduced. The whole family can share the fun of trying to communicate in a new and exciting way. This can be as simple as learning polite conversational phrases, colors or basic vocabulary. Remember, you don’t have to be fluent to have fun, and your child will be impressed that you are learning together!
Map it out. Pull out a map or globe and have your child first locate where you live. Next, have him point to the country he is learning about. How far away is it? How would you get there?
Read a book. Visit your local library or book store to find children’s books in the language you are learning. Look for books that include pronunciation keys or even a CD so you can hear the words. Most of these books are very basic and written for beginners. They are often bilingual and are almost like picture dictionaries. Look for one of your child’s favorite books written in the second language. Your child will already know the story and you will be able to focus on a new way to read the book.
Visit a restaurant. Try going to dinner at a restaurant where the target language is spoken. You and your child can try greeting the hostess or waiter in their native language. Have the waiter share his favorite dish and talk about the music and decorations in the restaurant. This type of interaction can bring the culture to life.
Set up a play date. Seek out opportunities for your child to interact with children and families from different countries and cultures. It will be particularly meaningful if they speak the language your family is learning. Getting to know families from countries different from your own can increase your child’s appreciation of cultural similarities and differences. These intimate interactions will give your child the chance to explore and gain understanding from firsthand experiences.