Five Surprising Places for Language Learning with your Little One

5 surprising places for language learning with your little one
This entry was first posted on July 11, 2014 on the Flash Sticks Blog

la lune

We’re fortunate enough to have a great guest post on the FlashSticks blog today, from Sarah Barrett, of Lingotastic. You might remember Sarah from her post a couple of weeks ago, where she told us all about her language teaching journey.
Sarah’s parent and toddler group, Lingotastic, uses puppets, music and stories to help young children and their families to take their first steps into a second language, in a friendly and welcoming environment.
Today, Sarah tells us about a couple of here favourite stealth language learning ideas for families. Perfect timing just before the weekend.

1. In the playground
On the swings: Count in the target language whilst pushing your little one. And once they’ve mastered numbers, you can always progress to trying out days of the week, as well as months of the year.
Round the roundabout: Ask your little one if they want to go faster or slower in the target language. My children learned the word nochmal – again – on a roundabout.

Family car trips
2. In the car

Counting: Sometimes simplicity is the most effective way for your children to learn a new language. Count to ten around in a circle in whichever language you choose. My children love this one and it’s a great way to ensure they’ve got their numbers down.
Dictionary games: This one’s great and has never-ending possibilities. Simply select a letter and give a description, then ask your child to guess the word. So, for example, you might say, “the word starts with an “F” and is a cake with fruit in it.”
Listening to music: CDs with songs in the target language are a brilliant tool. Music is a very powerful tool for language learning. What’s great from my experience is that children find themselves singing a song fluently in another language, then they become curious about what the words mean, which is where the real learning comes in.

at home
3. At home

Instructions: Give simple instructions in the chosen language, making it as much as a casual part of your routine as possible. You might say, “Schuhe an! (Put your shoes on!).” At first, you may need to do a little translation, but you’ll find that your child very quickly begins to understand the words in the target language.
Counting: There’s no end to the counting game. And counting when going up and down stairs is a great bit of fun.
Arts and crafts: Craft is good for language learning too. When you are making things together, be sure to point out the vocabulary for colours and whatever other materials you are using or things you’re making together.
Pairs: Matching games are great too. We have a few with pictures and words in the target language.
Reading: It goes without saying that bilingual books are brilliant. Your local Library can rent them from Bright Books, if they don’t have some already.
Online: YouTube has lots of brilliant videos of nursery rhymes and even Peppa Pig in a variety of target languages.
Toys: My children had some brilliant bilingual toys, which sing nursery rhymes and teach simple vocabulary.
FlashSticks: Oh and obviously, as the guys guys at FlashSticks were so kind as to let me throw some words together for their blog, I should mention that FlashSticks are brilliant for reading age children. Stick them around the home and label things. Oh and don’t forget to take pictures while you’re out and about, so you can tweet them at FlashSticks on #FlashSticksFriday.

4. In the Garden

Gardening is a great stealth learning activity. And one we can’t get enough of at home. Simply point and name plants and objects, as you play together.

5. Out and about

Visiting the farm or zoo, naming animals in the target language is a great way to pick up some really useful vocabulary. Supermarkets and shops are also good for naming objects too. In fact, it works anywhere!
The aim of this blog was just to kick off a discussion on stealth language learning tactics that your little ones will love. I’ve put forward some of my favourites, but I LOVE hearing new ideas, so if you’ve got some great ideas that I’ve missed, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
As a language learning and teaching enthusiast, I’d love to connect with any like minded teachers and learners. It would be great to meet those with little ones or who work with little ones, so if you’d like to get in touch, let me know in the comments below or you can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or via email.


  • Lovely post!
    My language knowledge is very limited French and German (the latter better than the former) but I have many friends who are bilingual and the way the kids pick the languages up astounds me. They truly are sponges.
    I’ll be sure to use some of these with my kids (albeit with my limited knowledge)! X

  • These are brilliant ideas for instilling languages in to every day life, making them more common place rather than ‘teaching’, love it! xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available