Guest post: Pontiac Academy for Excellence instructors offer tips to help kids learn a new language Posted: February 16, 2016 Updated: February 16, 2016

Children of all ages benefit from learning a new language through boosts in cognitive function, memory, listening, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, according to numerous studies. To help local families support their child’s foreign language journey at home, two of Pontiac Academy for Excellence’s instructors, Wenting Wang and Gustavo Potes, offer the following tips:

Have some fun
Wang suggests using interactive activities such as playing games and singing songs because they use words and sounds children are familiar with. Parents Magazine provides a few easy ways you can reinforce a new language including having a dance party with a soundtrack featuring songs in the new language or playing bilingual bingo.

Watch TV (and read more books!)
According to Potes you can lighten up the learning process by reading and watching television. Encourage your children to read the same material in the native and new language because it helps them better understand grammar and overall context. When watching television use subtitles to provide the same benefits as reading with the added bonus of the reinforcing components of the spoken language. According to research found in The Association for Educational Communications & Technology’s publication Educational Technology Research and Development, this method is highly effective because it plays to kids’ desire to understand what is being said or written.

Offer encouragement
The general principles in
the Michigan Department of Education’s recent World Languages Standards and Benchmarks report offer a reminder that children learn at different speeds and their goals should be made accordingly. Don’t show frustration at the pace of a child’s learning - keep it positive, Potes says. He also recommends celebrating the milestones your children reach by providing them with a simple compliment or small treat.

Celebrate differences and attend cultural events
According to the
American Council on The Teaching of Foreign Languages, learning a new language also provides helps children appreciate a different culture. Wang agrees and adds that language cannot be isolated from culture. You can help your children make personal connections by finding ways for them to experience the unique sights, sounds and tastes of the culture tied to the language they are studying. A current opportunity in metro Detroit is the Association of Chinese American’s Lantern Festival to celebrate Chinese New Year. 

 

For more information about language instruction at PAE, visit www.pontiacacademy.org.