Top Tips for Helping Your Child Learn a Second Language

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Learning a second language has multiple benefits for children and adults alike. If you’re thinking of encouraging your child to learn a new language, then you’re on the right track for ensuring your child is streets ahead academically and socially. Learning a new language isn’t all plain sailing though. There are usually bumps in the road and it’s important that you remain positive and encouraging of your child’s efforts, even when they waver. Here are some top tips to help your child learn a new language:

Exposure is everything – it’s no use learning everything from a book or even as part of a class, because it won’t always sink in, especially long term. Your child will benefit most of all from hearing the language they’re learning being spoken in an ordinary fashion. Travel isn’t always an option so encourage them to watch films and television shows in the language they are learning. Subtitles will help them to follow along until they become more proficient. Here are some ideas for good children’s films in French, German, Spanish and Mandarin:

  • Ernest & Celestine (French)
  • Une Vie De Chat (French)
  • Les Triplettes De Bellville (French)
  • Die Abenteuer von Pico und Columbus (German)
  • Ritter Rost (German)
  • Anina (Spanish)
  • Chico and Rita (Spanish)
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf (喜羊羊與灰太狼)
  • PJ Masks (睡衣小英雄)

A number of these animated films are aimed at younger children, but they are great for older children who are learning the language because the repetitive nature of the scripts and the simple language mean that the plots are easy to follow.

Writing, reading and speaking – don’t forget all of the elements! Learning a new language should involve as many activities as possible including singing. This is especially important for smaller children who really enjoy singing and music. The music helps cement the language so look on YouTube for examples of songs and nursery rhymes to enjoy together.

Perhaps the best tip is to start learning the language yourself. In this way you can engage more fully with your child and practice the language together. Older children will benefit from exchange trips, as offered by many senior schools. This sixth form in Marylebone runs trips abroad as often as possible and when there are no travel restrictions. Experiencing other cultures is of enormous benefit in many ways.

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