There’s no denying the benefits of being able to speak more than one language. As someone who always had a mental block to learning a new language, I was always envious of my friends who could speak a language other than English. I wish I could speak a second language, and I really do want my girls to learn a second language. The benefits of teaching your child a new language, transcend simply knowing that a new language. To be a multi-lingual child or adult, to me, is simply brilliant!
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative guest post.
Can I Speak A Second Language?
To my shame, even though I grew up in Zimbabwe I never learnt the local Shona or Ndebele languages as it was only English that they taught in schools there. I did study French at high school for a time, but I dropped it as soon as I could. Roll forward life to 2013, and after 10 years in the UK, I moved to South Africa with my husband and two young daughters.
My husband grew up in South Africa and could speak Afrikaans and English, Afrikaans being a compulsory subject in schools there, but also a massive part of South African culture. Afrikaans is a language that was derived from the Dutch settlers to Southern Africa, and apparently, most Afrikaans speakers can understand Dutch and even German or at least learn those two languages very easily because of the similarities.
Anyway, we moved around a lot, and due to the nature of my husband’s work, we always seemed to end up in small towns where the most commonly spoken language was Afrikaans. I won’t lie, I really struggled with this. People assumed I could understand them, but I couldn’t, and so I think I must have come across as rude, but really I was just completely intimidated and frustrated at not being able to understand what people were saying. Eventually, after nearly five years in SA, I was able to follow conversations, read road signs etc but I never spoke the language.
As for my children, I think by the time we left South Africa and moved back to England, even though they went to an English speaking school, they understood Afrikaans better than I did.
Recently my eldest daughter has begun to show an interest in learning Spanish and my husband is all for encouraging this. When I was asked to host this guest post on tips for teaching your child a new language, I knew I needed the tips too. To be able to speak more than one language is a skill that can only benefit you in life.
Tips for teaching your child a new language
Learning a new language is an amazing feat for children to get involved in as they can learn a lot about different cultures, be able to use their skills abroad and also gain a whole breadth of new skills. It also aids in academic progression.
Are you looking to train your child to speak a second language? Here are some top tips to get you started, with the help from this independent girls school in Buckinghamshire.
Younger children have a better time at picking up a new language. It doesn’t mean your child has “missed the boat” if they want to start learning a language later on, as you can learn a language at any time in your life. However, having a head start at a young age can give you an advantage, especially if you’re already introducing new words to your child.
Listen To Different Media
Music, TV and film are all great ways for your child to simply absorb what they’re listening to. They might not understand a lot of what’s being spoken about but they can begin to learn about how different words sound, inflexions, tones of voice and the different tenses of the language. Absorbing that language and culture around that language is a less formal way of teaching your child a new language.
If you think your child is struggling to hear, consider having their hearing checked at a facility such as the Yorkshire Hearing Clinic. They can help to diagnose a problem so you can address it early on.
Each day give your child a task to learn something new in their new language. It could be a new phrase or how to use different words in the past, present or future tenses for instance, but these small bits of practice will give them a goal to work towards each week. If one of a child’s parents can speak a second language at home, they really should try to only speak to their child in that language so the child can learn at home from when the child is as young as possible.
Languages like French, Spanish or German are commonly learnt in high schools. However, if there isn’t the option of this in your school it’s worth considering hiring extra support for your child as they learn. They can also test your child and give your child a goal to work towards each week.
With these handy tips for teaching your child a new language, what language are you considering teaching your child, to give them that skill for life?