Learning a second language comes with a host of benefits besides just looking impressive on a CV. People who know more than one language have better memories, problem-solving skills, and concentration. And bilingual children even show signs of being more creative and flexible.
So, how can you help your child to learn a second language?
We spoke to StudyCat – the team behind the award-winning language apps for kids – to find out not only has the StudyCat team got over 20 years of experience creating fun language-learning games for children aged 3-8, but the apps have already been downloaded by over 12 million families around the world. Here are their top 5 tips for helping your child to learn another language.
1. Make it fun
Children learn best when they’re having fun. So, why is it that children learning languages at school are often bored?
StudyCat’s Taiwan-based co-founders saw that children were all-too-often memorising dated textbook material, which didn’t make them want to learn at all. And of course, every parent knows the pain of trying to persuade a child to do something they don’t want to!
Instead, by introducing children to a new through fun games, catchy songs, and animated characters, children actually want to learn.
So, put down the textbooks and scrap the blackboard and chalk. Whether it’s through a game of snap, learning a new song or a subscription to StudyCat’s original apps, the first step is to inject some fun into language learning!
2. Grab their attention
Experts say that a child can generally concentrate for around 2 to 3 minutes for each year of their age. This means that while an 8-year-old will be able to focus for around 16-24 minutes, you’ll only have around 6-9 minutes to keep a 3-year-old focused.
So, you can’t expect them to sit still and concentrate on one task for long periods of time. Especially if it’s a boring one!
To maintain your child’s attention while they’re learning a new language, you’ll need to switch tasks frequently and constantly grab their attention with something new. The StudyCat apps do this by teaching children vocabulary through a series of short and snappy activities – from memory games to games that test critical thinking and coordination.
If your child’s attention waives when you’re helping them to learn a new language, that’s okay! Instead of forcing them to continue with a task when they’ve lost concentration, take a break and come back to it when they’re ready. This way, you’ll avoid associating language learning with negativity and keep it fun!
3. Start them young
Young children have brains that are still developing and absorbing the world. This is what makes them so good at learning new languages. In fact, you may well find that your child picks up a new language much more easily than you. Especially went it comes to the accent!
By exposing your child to a second language while they’re young, they’ll pick up the information more rapidly and fluently. Not only will they learn the building blocks of the language itself, but they’ll develop the skills they need to learn other languages more easily in the future, setting them up to succeed at both school and work later in life.
4. Explore different cultures
Part of the fun of learning a second language is being able to communicate with people from other countries and cultures. So, instead of just treating language learning as a standalone skill, try to excite your child about the cultures, customs and traditions that go hand in hand with the language they’re learning.
In an ideal world, this might include taking your child abroad to put some of their newfound skills into practice. But of course, that’s not going to be possible for everyone, especially now we’re in the midst of a pandemic! So, you’ll need to think outside the box.
If your child is learning German, why not pull together an Oktoberfest celebration at home? Or, if they’re learning Chinese, why not spend a night making fried rice or traditional dumplings together? You could even put on some traditional music and make a themed night of it!
5. Learn with them
We all know that children thrive off one-on-one time with their parents. So, we love the idea of making language learning an activity you do together – whether that’s playing StudyCat’s language-learning games together or progressing through the course at the same time on separate devices
Once your confidence is increasing, you could even spend time speaking your chosen language together or watching a fun movie in another language.
If you’re bilingual, this is also a great way to connect with your child in your mother tongue. By making the moments associated with your native language special, your child will be much more likely to embrace the fun of it as opposed to seeing it as a chore.
So, what are you waiting for? Whether you’re planning on teaching your child French or Chinese, these simple tips will make sure that your child is just as interested in learning a new language as you are in helping them learn!
And of course, don’t forget to sign up for a free trial of StudyCat. With 5 fun language-learning apps for children to choose from, it’s the best way to help your child learn a second language at home. Plus, you can even get 10% off your first monthly or yearly subscription! Just use the code icklepickles10 at checkout.
This post is in collaboration with Studycat.