As a family we use many different ways to engage with language learning. Here are five we love.
Food is a great way to engage with kids.
Thank you biscuits, Oma in Germany sends food parcels to us we make soup and other foods together following instructions in German. http://lingotastic.co.uk/2015/souper-language-learning/ Souper language learning.
We also have yummy chocolate biscuits we have for pudding sometimes. The biscuits feature a picture of a famous building in Germany, France, Spain, UK and Belgium. Family members can only have a biscuit if they ask for it to say please or thank you in that language. When we are abroad, we encourage our children to read menus and order in that language. They often pick it up quickly if it benefits them!
There are many festivals that you can look at with your family that provide a cultural context for language learning.
As a family we celebrated Chinese New Year and learned a little Mandarin http://lingotastic.co.uk/2015/mandarin-learning/ . We celebrated St Martin’s day and St Nicholas, day with other German speaking families. We went along to a St Lucia celebration and learned a little Swedish. http://lingotastic.co.uk/2015/a-polyglot-christmas/
We like Asterix. The most recent films are not in English so it good reason that the kids had to watch it in German. We also watch some German DVDs in German with German or English subtitles.
Friends and family
As our children got older they often felt like the odd one out speaking other than English at home. As we were able to meet other families who spoke German as well as English it helped them accept it as normal. It also gave us others to swap books and DVDs with, Playing in the park abroad means the children have to interact in that language. Arranging to meet with other children who speak another language is another way to help kids use other languages. Spending time with none English speaking family provides a great opportunity for kids to practice and use their language skills.
We’ve many language learning games like memory pairs to help practice vocabulary, playing UNO in other languages, counting in another language when playing snakes and ladders and Ludo. That’s before we even think about electronic games that can be set up in other languages. My son used to play Fifa on the PS1 in German. There are lots and lots of online language games like Cat Spanish, Duolingo, Memrise to name a few.(We could write a whole blog just on this!), YouTube has lots of great language imput in many languages. Our Emily has written a blog on her favourite programmes to help language learning. http://lingotastic.co.uk/2016/language-learning-tips-from-a-seven-year-old-2/