Routine, repetition, and fun are three of the most important facets of teaching your child a new language. Learn about the best ways to introduce a second language to a preschooler.
As a parent, there’s no doubt that you want the best for your child. And one of the best ways to do this is to ensure that they’re able to learn, grow, and communicate their needs.
Whether your child learns French, English, or Spanish as a second language, simply learning another language at a young age is a great way to set them up for success later on in their lives.
As we’re seeing the world shift before our eyes, remote work is becoming the norm and the workforce is becoming more international than ever. Language, cultural fluency and communication are quickly becoming key skills for tomorrow’s citizens.
However, one of the biggest challenges parents encounter is finding the best ways to introduce a second language to their young ones. After all, your preschooler is still most likely busy mastering their first language and learning everything else that a toddler needs to discover about the world.
So at what age should they start learning a new foreign language? What are the best learning tools to use when teaching them another language? How long will it take a child to learn a new language?
These are all questions parents have when considering a different language for their young children.
Below, we aim to answer these questions by exploring some of the best ways to introduce a second language to a preschooler.
Let’s dive in!
Whether we’re talking about making their bed, brushing their teeth, or learning a second language, routine is the foundation of any new skills or habits you want to instill in your preschooler.
Research consistently shows that routines are important for children. Having a routine provides comfort and helps make their lives more predictable.
Therefore, you must build a routine around your child learning a second language.
Fortunately, plenty of activities you already do with your child provide the perfect opportunity to foster foreign language development through practice and repetition.
For instance, you might consider building a language learning routine around their breakfast, where you use the food they’re eating to help them learn and memorize words in their new language.
Furthermore, routines like bedtime story, or even cleaning up toys, cooking meals, doing chores and bath time are also great opportunities for building an effective language learning routine.
The point is to find any opportunity you can throughout the day to allow your toddler to practice and repeat the new language and vocabulary that they’re learning.
One of the best things to do when trying to teach a child a new language is to make learning into a game. Not only do kids love games, but research shows that learning apps, games, phonics tools, and puzzles can be effective ways to teach children.
For instance, language games like Scrabble Junior or Boggle Junior have been found to improve a child’s fluid reasoning skills and language processing speeds. And while games like these might be a bit too advanced for your preschooler, there are many other early education language learning games you can use to learn new languages.
Language Learning Games are one of the best methods for engaging your child and ensuring that they see language learning as something fun to do.
One of the best methods to teach your child a new native language is through interactive storybook reading.
According to research, the conversations held between children and their caregivers can help improve their vocabulary in a new language. Story reading can be especially beneficial when the child is encouraged to ask questions and explore their curiosity about the story.
For instance, children often ask questions about the storybook illustrations. These questions provide excellent opportunities to teach them new words and ideas that they can associate with images rather than abstract sounds.
And as we’ve already mentioned, routine and repetition are excellent ways to improve a child’s language learning skills.
Therefore, as you read and reread the same storybooks, your child will become increasingly familiar with the vocabulary from the story, in turn, helping them improve their language acquisition skills even more.
Children don’t learn in the same ways as adults.
While adults learn primarily through seeing and reading, children learn primarily by using a range of senses, such as touch, feel, and sound.
In other words, Singing songs and memorizing nursery rhymes is a great way to help your child learn a second language.
Because preschool children thrive on repetition, nursery rhyme lyrics, combined with catchy tunes, can considerably improve your child’s ability to memorize new words and master foreign languages.
Plus, most children’s songs and nursery rhymes have standard translations available in different languages.
So as your little one learns nursery rhymes in their native language, it will be much easier for them to learn, understand, and memorize the lyrics in their target language.
Check out these fantastic French songs that can help your child learn!
Watching cartoons, shows, and movies for toddlers in Spanish, French, or English is another simple, fun, and effective way to help a child start speaking a second language.
Many cartoon shows for toddlers, such as Dora the Explorer, combine more than one language, which helps your child learn new words and their counterparts in a second language.
At the same time, watching cartoons entirely in a second language can also help with language learning.
Research shows that cartoons can provide children with a more natural approach to learning a language.
This is because the child will learn to associate the sounds of the language with the images and objects on the screen, combining both visual and auditory learning. Over time, this helps them develop a more natural way of speaking a new language.
If your child is learning to speak French, check out these excellent French cartoons for kids!
When teaching another language to young children, you must ensure that learning activities aren’t dull or monotonous. And that’s why the list above mostly includes simple, fun, and entertaining activities.
Not only do young children respond better to fun and exciting activities, but fun activities are also more memorable.
For instance, when you teach your child a new song in a foreign language, whether by making funny faces or dancing around and being silly while singing, it can help them remember the new words, terms, and sounds they’re learning.
The idea is to get your child happy and excited about learning new words. It shouldn’t feel like a chore or something bothersome to do.
This way, your child will learn to be excited about their new language acquisition skills, and the lessons they learn will stick with them as they grow.
Whether you’re working on teaching your child English, French, or Spanish as a second language, it’s crucial to understand that it will take time.
Research indicates that it can take as long as five to seven years for a child to master a new language at an academic level.
Therefore, while it’s great to start their language learning experience at a young age, you should acknowledge that developing their language skills will take time and consistency.
Games, storybooks, music, and cartoons are all excellent language learning tools. But there’s nothing better than practicing one-on-one with another individual.
Whether you speak the language you’re trying to teach them or know somebody who does, maybe an aunt, uncle, or their grandparents, it can be highly beneficial to have your child practice speaking regularly.
The more your child is exposed to natural conversational language, the quicker they’ll be able to pick up on things like idioms and dialect.
Here at Bilingual Bebe, we believe that the best approach to learning a new language is an engaging, interactive environment, where children engage and interact with their native language speaking teachers and other children of the same age who possess the same fluency levels as them.
Bilingual Bebe’s virtual classes comprise small groups of no more than five students at a time. These online language learning classes ensure that each child benefits from the classroom learning experience and dynamic all while being given plenty of one-on-one time and attention from their teachers.
With an expert-built curriculum and teachers who know how to connect with children on a deeper level, your child will be mastering everything from grammar rules to everyday dialect in no time.
Bilingual Bebe’s group language learning environment also means that children are happy to be with their friends. And more than that, it ensures that they’re excited to learn together, participate, and have fun while doing it!
Click here to start your FREE trial of Bilingual Bebe!
We’ve now covered some of the best ways to introduce a foreign language to your child. Let’s review some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from our language learning parents.
While there’s no right or wrong way to introduce foreign languages to young children, building a routine and forming good language learning habits early is the best way to start them on the path to linguistic success. Language learning games, books, songs, and making learning fun are also great ways to reinforce good language habits at a young age.
Researchers believe that children’s brains are most ripe for receiving and learning new information until they are near the age of three. However, studies have shown that second language acquisition still peaks at or before the age of 6 or 7. Other claims that this window extends until puberty. Overall, they all agree that learning a secondary language only becomes more difficult the older we get. So if you want your child to learn a second language, it’s best to start their language education at a young age.
Yes, a toddler is at the best age to learn a second language as they are still learning and decoding their first language. Although it takes time and consistency to acquire vocabulary and they won’t be fluent right away, teaching your child a second language at a young age is a great way to plant the seeds of language early, which you can then nurture to grow over time as they continue learning their new language.
While each child’s learning curve will be different, research shows that it can take five to seven years for children to fully master a second language. That said, the sooner they begin learning and building their new vocabulary, the sooner they’ll be fluent in their new language.
Fortunately, many simple yet fun and practical language learning resources exist to help you introduce a foreign language to a preschooler. And because there are so many benefits to learning a foreign language, getting your child started as early as possible is crucial.
We founded Bilingual Bebe on the idea of helping parents teach their children a second language as early as three years of age. And today, we’re one of the leading online language learning platforms for children.
But unlike other language learning tools, your child won’t just be learning from repetition.
With Bilingual Bebe, your child gets a genuinely immersive and educational experience that will put them on the path to mastering their new language as quickly as possible.
We have an expert-built curriculum where they’ll get to participate and have fun while learning vocabulary, grammar, conjugation, the culture and more!