Learning a new language is one of the most rewarding experiences for many. But it can seem overwhelming if you need to figure out where to start, especially for children. Here are some tips on how you can help your children learn a new language:

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1. Focus on the easier task 

Have your child listen first, then read, speak and write. Stephen Krashen’s advice is worth remembering: “Maximise comprehensible input”. Listening and speaking are much more of a priority than reading or writing in the early stages of learning a language. Listening and speaking aural-oral skills, and international intelligibility are much sought after in the real world and young learners have to strive to listen to and speak the language regularly, that is to communicate, in authentic settings as this serves as a foundation for reading and writing which are more complex much less in use in everyday life. It is important to remember that grammar and vocabulary are common to all four skills so that the learners will receive much-needed reinforcement in these areas. Try to have your child focus on listening and speaking first and then move on to higher-order reading and writing skills. Gradually, all four skills will be integrated following the dynamic of everyday communication, and the learners will be able to comfortably and confidently use the language in their daily life.


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2. Use entertainment or apps 

Aside from learning the basics of the language, you may also want to use entertainment to help your child learn. Music and movies, for example, are great ways to pick up new vocabulary or practise listening skills. You could even introduce some games in your child’s free time as a fun way to explore grammar rules!

In addition, watching movies exposes the learner to various registers of language use (formal, informal, casual, intimate) and to the vocabulary and grammatical structures associated with them. They will also learn to link words with their corresponding nonverbal cues.


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3. Use apps

If books and flashcards bore your child while learning, there are other options available to make learning easier and more enjoyable for your child. Apps such as Duolingo allow users to learn and practise languages on the go. Similar apps, such as Memrise and Mondly offer the same outcome with differences in features and outlook.

Apart from dedicated language learning apps, social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram, Spotify and YouTube, are among some great tools that facilitate the process of learning a language. Many content creators teach their native language through creative methods such as infographics, tutorials, skits and more.


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4. Join a class 

Classes are the most popular way to learn a language, and they are available at all levels from private institutions or schools. They may be expensive, but if your child is serious about learning a new language, it might be worth investing in them.

The class size needs to be taken into account because it affects how much time each student gets with his instructor. If it’s too large, there isn’t enough time for one-on-one interactions; if it’s too small, then not everyone will get the practice they need. If your child prefers attending a class with other children and is likely to benefit from planned learning strategies and materials, this may well be the right option for him!

In addition, joining a class allows learners to find a group of people who are in the same boat. These groups can be a motivator in helping your child learn a language and there will be many opportunities for peer interaction and learning. 


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5. Practice with a highly proficient user of the language 

If you cannot afford to go for a language class or if the language you intend on learning is not spoken much where you live, try finding a highly proficient user of the language to learn from. If you have a family member or close friend who speaks the language that your child is interested in learning then this can be a great opportunity to pair them up to encourage conversations in the language. Suggest avoiding using the “native speaker” as a model. This is very controversial as many of them are far from ideal or proficient users of the language.

 Depending on your child’s age, some apps such as Hello Talk and MyLanguageExchange allow you to find people who seek to learn other languages through conversations. For instance, you might find someone keen to learn your native language, and you could offer to assist him. In return, your new friend may be able to help you learn his native tongue.


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6. Play games

Learning a new language is often a fun and engaging process, but it can also be tough to stick with. If your child easily gets bored with one learning method or needs to be challenged, several language learning games may help him stay engaged and motivated while learning.

Games are easy to play anywhere, whether your child is sitting at home, in front of the tv or commuting from one place to another. They offer an opportunity to practise speaking or reading aloud in a fun and entertaining manner. Your child may also play games alone. These are often called “study” games and allow you to reinforce what they have learned by testing their knowledge repeatedly through other methods.

Games will teach not only basic vocabulary but also some grammar rules that may not be covered as thoroughly in other forms of study material like textbooks or audio lessons. And they do so in an entertaining way!


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7. Find a style that works 

When learning or teaching a language, there is a wide range of resources, methods, and approaches at your disposal. Trying to use them all at once can often feel a little daunting for both you and your child. Instead, try to experiment with a few before settling on the ones that best suit their learning style.

Try to use flashcards, grammar translations, spaced repetition, immersive learning, or any other method. Your child will make good progress when they are satisfied with the learning plan or combination.

The most important thing to remember when learning a new language is to have fun with it! A bit of self-discipline and perseverance will go a long way. If your child is feeling tired or frustrated, get them to take a break and come back later when they feel refreshed.


This article at a glance:

Learning a new language can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be with these tips:

  • Focus on the easier task 
  • Use entertainment 
  • Use apps 
  • Join a class 
  • Practise with a highly proficient language user 
  • Play games 
  • Find a style that works

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