What are some fun, easy and effective strategies that I can use with my children to learn more vocabulary and grammar in the target language?
This is a compilation of tips and strategies shared through the Bilingual Advent calendar. You can get a free copy of the calendar anytime of year here. The calendar also has more detailed tips on each of these categories in case you want to learn more.
The calendar will be available any time of the year because these strategies are applicable year round. If you need an extra boost of ideas, you are going to love this list!
Let Your Child Tell the Story
Reading is a great way to infuse new vocabulary but one night in December ask your child to tell you about one of their favorite stories. Feel free to help them along the way but let them do the majority of the talking
Don’t get trapped
Make sure you are not getting trapped in just the routine of the day! Try to go out of your way to have casual conversations with your kids! Not sure what to talk about? Follow their interest and you are sure to get them talking!
Label the house!
Whether your kids can read or not, labeling items around the house is a great way to increase your kids’ vocabulary. Point to the labels you have added every time you interact with an object and use it as an opportunity to chat about it!
Answer all of your kids’ crazy questions!
Their questions give us an idea of what they understand well and what they don’t fully understand just yet. Keep your explanations simple yet purposeful!
Model the right word
We always want to keep interactions with the target language positive and one of the best ways to do so is by modeling the right words whenever they make a mistake. This is a much gentler way of correcting our little ones on their grammar and vocabulary.
Vocabulary, grammar and language learning in general take time. Make sure your little ones are not picking up on any hesitations on your end. The language journey is a marathon!
Use grown-up words too!
Sometimes we shy away from more complicated words to keep it easier on our kids! We certainly don’t want to make things harder on our kids but if you see an opening, introduce these fancier words! Kids can do amazing things if we let them!
Embrace the grammar mistakes!
Make a note of the grammar mistakes your kids make because it will let you know exactly what you need to work on with your kids. And remember to enjoy those funny little things they say, they will be gone before you know it because they really do grow up too fast!
Show them you are learning too
We always want to model good behavior for our little ones and that’s because they watch our every move! Show them you are learning your target language too. This will also show them that it’s ok to make mistakes because even you don’t know how to say everything!
When you are tired, work on routines!
Routines are a great way to keep the target language alive. They are predictable and so both parents and kids are expecting them to take place. These are key on those days when we are tired and speaking the target language feels a little harder. If you can get your kids used to answering you in a given language at specific times of the day then you can rest assured that at least during those interactions the target language will be spoken!
Play games, lots of them!
Play is a child’s work! Kids do their best learning when they are enjoying themselves. Make sure you are infusing the target language into your play. You will have fun and so will your kids!
Keep it age appropriate!
Make sure all the resources you are using to infuse the target language are age appropriate. A great deal of thought goes into tv shows, books, videos to make sure it is engaging for specific ages. Children will learn well when the information presented to them matches their stage of development.
I love arts and crafts and I love doing them with my kids as well. It creates an opportunity to interact in the target language that does not feel so intimidating for them. They can create some art work of their own while practicing their skills with you.
Embrace open ended questions!
For some kids, expressing themselves in the target language can feel daunting. We want to make sure that they feel confident in their skills and are not afraid to experiment. One of my favorite questions to build up their confidence is through open ended questions. There are no right or wrong answers! Anything your child says (within reason) works for an open ended question.
Watch a holiday movie or tv show together!
We can leverage TV and movies to support the target language. If you can get your hands on your favorite holiday movie in the target language, consider watching it together!
Wordless Books are a powerful tool!
There are so many wonderful Christmas books that can help to get you and your kids in the spirit of the season. But sometimes finding them in your target language can be tricky! If you can’t get your hands one, consider trying wordless books. With beautiful and engaging illustrations, these books can help you bridge the gap. You can focus on the images and describe them to your child as you create the story.
Fill up their stockings!
If you use stockings in your home, even just for decoration purposes, add a few positive notes for your child in the target language. Children love praise so think of some ways that praise things such as their behavior, their work in school, their interest in the target language. The notes can come from you or from Santa!
Get your aprons out!
One of my favorite elements about the holiday season is all the good and unique food that you get to eat during this time of year. Are there any family or cultural traditions that you can introduce your child as they year comes to an end? This is a great way to infuse more language and add a new dimension of culture into your interactions with your kids!
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