Jan 05 2018

Helping Your Child Learn a Foreign Language

Is your child learning a second, or even a third language at school? Are you wondering how you can help them at home? Here are some useful and practical tips below:

Early Years Tips for Parents: 

Ask your child’s teacher for lists of words/phrases they are learning in class. It’s okay if you don’t speak the language yourself, learning alongside your child can be fun and your child will appreciate the efforts you make to learn with them!

  • Be positive and praise attempts made in the language.
  • Teach your child through repetition.
  • Use visual aids and big gestures to reinforce new vocabulary.
  • Provide engaging activities in the new language, such as playing Bingo with pictures of vocabulary words your children are learning at school.
  • Take an interest in the songs they are learning at school, and sing them at home with your child.
  • Reinforce vocabulary learned at school through art activities and questions: For example, name the colours in your drawing. How many people did you draw in your picture? Which body parts did you draw on your favourite animal? See if your child can answer in the new language!
  • Is your child learning food vocabulary at school? Challenge them to name fruits and vegetables at the grocery store in the new language.   
  • Have your child watch their favourite movies or TV shows in the new language. DVDs will allow you to change language settings and subtitles.
  • Have your child listen to music in the language and learn new songs.
  • Find age appropriate online games for your child to practice the language.
  • If your child is learning English as a second language, our Emergent Readers collection is a useful resource for helping your child learn to read words in English. Our unique eBooks come with engaging illustrations and audio buttons.

Emergent Readers Collection


Primary/Middle School Tips for Parents: 

Ask your child’s modern foreign language teacher for vocabulary and grammar being taught in the classroom so that you can reinforce at home. Again, it’s okay if you can’t speak the language yourself, there are plenty of ways you can still help them at home, and keep it fun:

  • Ask your child to teach you new words/sentences they have learned at school.
  • Provide reading materials in the language – newspapers, magazines etc...
  • Have your child listen to music in the language.
  • Take your child to local events connected to the culture. 
  • Arrange playdates or after-school activities with children who speak the language.
  • Arrange a pen pal so they may practice their writing skills.
  • Have your child practice writing the language in a variety of formats - greeting cards, shopping lists...
  • Play board games in the language with your child.
  • Have your child play online games in the language.
  • Let your child watch their favourite DVDs in the new language and have the subtitles shown or displayed (you choose) in their mother tongue.
  • If your child is learning French or English as a second language, the Shala Books website offers a large selection of audio eBooks to practice reading skills. On the website you will also find tips on how to use resources, as well as free, downloadable worksheets, lesson plans and assessment ideas that accompany each eBook. 

ESL Resources

FSL Resources

This blog is about sharing and discussing new ideas, so are there any tips you would like to add to the list? We welcome your thoughts! 

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