Teaching Young Children a Foreign Language

Studying abroad is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and is definitely not the time to sit at home in between going to class. Learn how to make the most of it!

Children have an easier time learning foreign language than adults do. Use a variety of techniques such as DVDs, books, songs, and CDs to teach your child.

Make learning foreign languages fun for your child through the use of different media. At the same time, enjoy learning some foreign language, yourself!

DVDs to Teach Foreign Language

Many DVDs come equipped with the option of changing the spoken language to another language, such as Spanish. Others may also include French, Italian, and Portuguese. Some also provide the option of subtitles in a foreign language. Again, common language choices are French and Spanish, but some may even include Chinese, Korean, and Thai (e.g. The Muppets Take Manhattan DVD).

Play familiar DVDs in foreign languages. The child will still understand the general gist of what is going on, and may gain some new words and phrases.

Books-on-Tape in Foreign Languages

Your local library stocks children’s books with cassettes or CDs. Often you can find favorite titles being read in a foreign language. Listen to the stories while following along in the book to gain new vocabulary.

Songs in Foreign Languages

Twin Sisters is a company that specializes in music for children. They offering music teaching simple vocabulary in Spanish, French, Italian, and German.

Also check out the “Teach Me….” series. This series takes favorite kids songs and changes the lyrics to the focus language. Learn songs in Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian, and Japanese.

These series, as well as several other titles, can be found at online and local bookstores and local libraries.

Adult Foreign Language Courses

Learn a foreign language with your child. Borrow from the library, or purchase, any of the foreign language courses on CD or cassette. You and your child will benefit by listening to the courses and practicing together. Learn basic vocabulary lists as well as actual conversational tools. Focus on using ones that are primarily auditory until the child is old enough to start learning the written word, as well.

PBS Foreign Language Shows

Many PBS channels offer educational TV programs conducted in foreign languages. These shows offer vocabulary as well as cultural lessons. Pay attention to your local listings. Or visit your local PBS website. Many of these shows can be viewed online. They do tend to be geared toward high school classes, but elementary-aged children may find them interesting.

Foreign Language Software

Visit your local software dealer and search for children’s software that teaches foreign languages. One example is the Jump Start series, famous for helping children with reading skills. Other titles, often geared toward adults, may also be appropriate for elementary children.

Learning a foreign language requires as much repeated exposure as possible. Using a variety of media, the child can get immersed in the target language. And you can learn it, too!

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