While a proficient (preferably native) speaker is always a plus in a language teacher, with planning and study a parent can do more than he may think, especially if he has some knowledge of the language in question. Naturally, at a certain point the student will need to have contact with a qualified speaker; however, even those fortunate enough to be able to hire a language tutor will find that assistance and reinforcement outside the lessons can be a great asset to the learner. In this regard, basic courses and textbooks must always have an audio and/or video component. Answer keys are essential with exercise books. Pictures and illustrations are indispensable in beginning and intermediate books, with public libraries often being a good source for supplemental material.

But even with the most careful preparation, how a student reacts in a new language situation is not easy to foresee. An otherwise confident, outgoing individual may withdraw when suddenly faced with the prospect of expressing himself in an unknown language. Therefore, correction should be gentle and criticism avoided. The student shouldn’t be pushed to speak before he or she is ready, and an approach compatible with his preferred learning style will increase motivation and effectiveness.

Learning a language gives one the opportunity of experiencing a culture. Those youngsters we’ve heard speaking French and Chinese are impressive, and they have something to share. Give your child the tools to see what they have to say.

Language Games/Activities for Beginners

(to be conducted in the target language)

Simon Says

Easy Card Games, i.e., Go Fish

Bingo with words and pictures

Matching games with words and pictures

Role-plays, i.e., with introductions using toys and stuffed animals

Pantomiming animals

Rhythmic chanting with clapping

Singing with hand motions

Tic/Tac/Toe and Hangman with vocabulary

Resource Materials—General Shopping Sites

www.WOR.com (foreign language resources)

www.MultiCulturalKids.com (multilingual and cultural resources)

www.ApplauseLearning.com (multilingual resources)

www.LittlePim.com (foreign language resource for infants and toddlers)

www.MultilingualBooks.com (multi-lingual resources)

www.ISSA.nl/rc_bs.html (children’s literature published in many languages)

www.BilingualJourney.com (Spanish)

www.Alphabet-Garten.com (German)

www.ABCKinderladen.com (German)

www.ChinaSprout.com (Chinese)

www.Childbook.com (Chinese)

Karen Haid is a certified ESL and Italian language teacher who, having learned two foreign languages as an adult, wonders how many she would have spoken had she begun her language odyssey sooner.

Copyright, 2011. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse®Magazine, Winter 2010-11.

Visit The Old Schoolhouse® at www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com  to view a full-length sample copy of the print magazine especially for homeschoolers. Click the graphic of the moving computer monitor on the left. Email the Publisher at Publisher@TheHomeschoolMagazine.com.