Are you looking for fun and easy ways to incorporate language-learning time into your daily routine with your child? The following five activities will seamlessly integrate practice time in your target language in your and your child’s life — before you know it, you and your child’s learning will flourish!
1) Create outlandish tales. Creating stories ranks high among fun and learning, because it will challenge you and your child to work together, think creatively, and use a variety of thematic vocabulary. If you have a time when you already tell stories, simply incorporate a foreign language story. If not, choose a specific time of day, like before bedtime or naptime, to weave a fantastical tale. Create a character and a situation, and then take turns adding to the story. You can emphasize specific grammar concepts you’re learning or key vocabulary you’re studying. The story can be as simple or as complex as you and your child would like! If you need some extra help, try riffing off a story you’re already familiar with, and create an unexpected twist in it.
2) Use imaginary play. Imaginary play takes the cake when it comes to learning and fun! Speaking of cake, one of my favorite imaginary scenarios to enact with children is a tea party. You can take turns speaking for the stuffed animals you invite to it, while practicing introductions, greetings, likes and dislikes, and conversational language. You can make use of imaginary play anywhere, anytime, and it will strengthen your child’s interest in the language, allow for extensive conversational practice and improve fluency and pronunciation.
3) Sing along. Singing along to songs in the target language is an indirect and easy (not to mention fun) way to incorporate language learning. It will naturally increase your and your child’s vocabulary and knowledge of phrases through indirect acquisition. It’s also incredibly easy to incorporate into your day — sing along in the car, while doing chores around the house, or any other time you might play music!
4) Create fun rituals. Making language learning part of your everyday life is key, so choose a few ‘signposts’ where you’ll always incorporate the target language. For example, if you choose morning time, story time, and dinnertime, you could write down a few things you’re grateful for each morning with your child in the target language, read at least one story a day in the language when you have story time, and, during dinner, verbally review new vocabulary and have a short conversation in the language.
In this example, you would have covered writing, reading and speaking, all in your new language, by the end of the day simply by adding it into your already-established routine. By the end of each day, you’ll make significant progress, and consistent action like this adds up to impressive results over time.
5) Choose cultural activities that are language-rich. You’re always looking for ways to spend quality time as a family, as well as activities that are both educational and fun. The perfect solution? Cultural activities that give you a chance to practice the language, work together as a family, and have fun at the same time!
Choose one activity a week to do together when you have downtime. This could include a museum outing to an exhibit relating to the target language, a cooking class or following a recipe in the language, watching a cartoon or movie in the target language, or even making a friend who speaks the language! There’s no limit to the types of activities you can engage in with your child when linguistic and cultural exposure are your goal.
As you can see from these ideas, there are a number of simple and fun ways to practice and learn the target language with your child. Not only will you spend the time having fun, you’ll be increasing fluency, knowledge, and exposure to the target language. Make sure to keep it fun for both of you, and you won’t be able to go wrong!
Joan B. is a Spanish tutor with TakeLessons.com, the leading website for connecting tutors and students for lessons in foreign languages, music, and more. Get more Spanish help on the TakeLessons Blog, or check out their live, online Spanish class offerings.