How to help your child learn a foreign language without cramming

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Julia Koroleva Founder of the bilingual kindergarten Bambini.

What is a language environment

This is the environment in which a new language is learned. It can be natural or artificial. The first occurs when a person moves abroad. The second is created specifically – for example, at home or at school. In both cases, people hear foreign speech, speak and read in a non-native language.

It may seem that the natural environment is more suitable for learning, but in reality it all depends on the individual characteristics of the person. In the same America, it is quite possible to survive without using English at all: the country has Russian-speaking kindergartens, shops and clinics. So you can get good practice at school, if there are a lot of language lessons and no one switches to Russian, and at home, if parents diligently help the child speak a foreign language.

What is a good language environment

< p>It is more interesting than school lessons and homework. It is difficult for children to memorize unfamiliar words, it is boring to sit over written exercises and repeat after the teacher. But cartoons, games and books may well captivate the child, which means that it will be easier for him to study a foreign language.

For the same reason, the environment helps to reach the next level of language proficiency – it becomes easier to learn new words, and it turns out to speak more freely. Suppose a child has already mastered the basic program, he knows the alphabet, can read and tells a couple of simple sentences about himself. However, it is not possible to move to the next stage due to difficulties in memorizing difficult words and structures. In this case, the language environment will help – through the game and communication, the child will be able to overcome this barrier.

Due to constant practice, the environment is also useful for maintaining skills. Even a person who speaks a language well must use his knowledge in order not to lose it.

How to create a language environment at home

The main thing is not to abandon classes and not to scare the child with the complexity of learning. Here are some simple tips that will help.

Speak a foreign language

Without active conversational practice, it is unlikely that you will be able to make serious progress, so it is important to communicate with your child in a language other than Russian. There are two parenting models that might work.

  1. OPOL (One Person, One Language).That is, “one parent – one language.” Such a system is suitable if one of the adults does not speak a foreign language. Let's say the mother speaks only English to the child, and the father continues to use Russian. At first, the baby may respond in the “wrong” language, but over time he will understand how to communicate with each parent. A study by the Belgian linguist Annick da Howver showed A. De Hower. Parental language input patterns and children’s bilingual use/Applied Psycholinguistics, so that 74% acquire a second language.
  2. MLAH (Minority Language at Home).This model assumes that at home they speak a foreign language with a child, and outside it – in their native language. MLAH is considered to be more efficient than OPOL, as second language is mastered by A. De Hower. Parental language input patterns and children’s bilingual use/Applied Psycholinguistics 97% of children. Do not be afraid that the child will forget his native language if you stop using it at home. For those who learn a second foreign language from an early age, L.Q appears in their heads. Summer. Language Acquisition for the Bilingual Child: A Perspective on Raising Bilingual Children in the U.S./A Resource Guide for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention “map” of languages. It's all about the sounds – people who are good at two languages ​​distinguish between the pronunciation of certain letters, thanks to which the brain quickly rewires.

If you are not ready to immediately switch to a foreign language, try using it in certain situations. In this case, the self-talk and parallel talk approaches are useful, that is, commenting on one’s or the child’s actions. For example, you can say “I'm getting my coat”, “I'm putting on my hat”, or “You have a red car, give me a yellow one”. In this case, it is not necessary to translate remarks into Russian. The main thing is to do everything at ease, use your usual facial expressions and intonation so as not to embarrass the child.

Watch cartoons

So you can combine business with pleasure. On the one hand, the child will definitely not be bored, and on the other hand, he will most likely learn new words.

At a basic level, it is better to start with simple cartoons, such as Peppa Pig or Dora the Traveler. They use short phrases repeated several times and simple plots that a child can understand.

Shrek, Mowgli, Beauty and the Beast films are good for children with an average level – they have a more complex plot, and means, and vocabulary with syntax. If it is difficult for a child to watch such films at one time, you can split the film screening for several days.

It is better to refuse Russian subtitles – the children will simply read the translation from the screen, otherwise they will not remember new words. On the contrary, it makes sense to leave the text in the voice-over language – this will help you learn new vocabulary.

Play games

If your child loves video games, it's time to invite him to change the language settings. The advantage of games is their interactivity – here you can influence the process. And this is motivating. Probably the child will want to understand what is happening. He will have to listen to dialogues, read complex tasks and quickly grasp new information. He will also feel like a full-fledged participant in another reality, which will also speed up learning.

Board games, such as Scrabble or Alias, are also good for expanding vocabulary. You can gather with the whole family or invite friends to make it more interesting for the child to come up with new words or explain those that come across.

Read books

This method also increases vocabulary well – complex or rare words come across in texts . The main thing is that the book corresponds to the level of knowledge of the child. So, for beginners, fairy tales are well suited, and for more experienced ones, children's encyclopedias and, for example, teenage literature.

If it is difficult to captivate a child with reading, try to find books on an interesting topic for him. It can be both science fiction and something popular science. You can also inspire with an example: suddenly the child wants to repeat after the reading parents and reaches for the book himself.

An interesting alternative to printed versions is audio books or regular reading aloud. So children will learn to perceive speech by ear.