Learning a foreign language as a child
Younger children pick up a new language so much quicker than older kids and adults. Learning a foreign language as a child is much easier than learning it as an adult.
If you are moving to a location where a new, foreign language is required, you and your child may choose to start learning it before you leave your home country.
My daughter started learning her first foreign language – Japanese – as soon as she started school at five years old and was able to speak decent sentences with a perfect accent within a very short time. Since then, she’s also learned French, Spanish, German and has just started Latin. We kept Japanese alive through private tutoring for a while as she didn’t want to lose that ability. She finds it easy to switch between them and has no problem with the very different vocabularly and accents. I’m constantly amazed and very envious of her abilities!
When I was at school, languages weren’t introduced until I was eleven years old. Consequently, I find learning new languages incredibly difficult.
Help your child learn a new language before your relocation with these suggestions recommended by expat parents.
Private language tuition
This can be expensive, but it’s a price worth paying, especially if your child will be entering a local school where all the lessons will be in the language of that country. Even if they will be going to an international school, getting head start on the language will pay dividends.
Yes, I’m encouraging your child to watch more TV! DVD films usually have an option to change the language they’re shown in. This method is particularly useful when used with a well-known and well-loved movie. As well as gaining an ear for the sounds of the new language, your child will understand the context because the plot of the film is already known to them. All learning should be enjoyable, and what could be more enjoyable than watching movies?
You could also invest in specialised language learning modules on DVD. Try them first by visiting your local library for copies to borrow.
Language learning online
Many online resources are available for learning a new language. A good start is the BBC Languages website. There are many more available, including apps to help you learn a language. Do you have any to recommend?
The key to teaching your child a new language is to make it fun; be relaxed about it and don’t pressurise them.
Other articles on this subject:
- Foreign language training overseas
- Raising multilingual children
- Raising bilingual children wherever you live