Learning a New Language

Learning a new language is best done in stages. First, you’ve got to know WHY you’re learning it, and what it’s going to be useful for. Most folks don’t just get dropped off in a new country without some background information about what they’re doing there. You can’t just drop a kid in a Spanish class and expect them to want to learn it just because it’s on the agenda.  First you’ve got to introduce them to the culture, and language is a big part of that experience.

I suggest starting off with more cultural experience first, which includes everything from maps to music to recipes to rituals. Here’s how to do this the fun way:

  1. Spread out an atlas or map of the world, and ask your kids where they want to go.
  2. Start learning about what life is like there, look at tourism guidebooks, local websites, books from the library and more. How has their environment shaped their culture?
  3. What are traditional recipes you can prepare for a meal in your own home?
  4. What holidays do they celebrate? What kind of parties do they have? What is important to them as a group?

Once you have these keys, now it’s time to start introducing the language. You can start with local music and talk shows so your child can get an overall taste of what their language is like. Are they slow or fast speakers? Are there sounds they make that you have to learn how to emulate? Do they communicate with only words, or are there other gestures that are just as important?

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork for a good foundation, so you child knows what they are really learning about and why it’s important (hint: they picked this country), now it’s time to do the next set of steps.

  1. Get a beginner course in the language
  2. Use Duolingo to get practice your vocabulary and sentence structure
  3. Find a new friend from your culture on Verbling so you can schedule regular time with a person from that actual culture to talk with and ask questions and converse with

That’s really it in a nutshell. Once you get the ball rolling, it will be easy to incorporate regular language lessons because it’s interesting, fun, and makes sense why you’re doing it in the first place.  Enjoy!