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Language development comes with practice but for some families, language practice only happens in school. Practicing a target language fosters language proficiency. There are several ways to get kids to practice a language outside the school.
Some families choose to participate in dual language immersion programs to give students the opportunity to learn multiple languages. Immersion programs in schools provide students opportunities to fully develop a language teaching them to speak, read, write, and understand a language.
We know that kids are known to make friends quickly. One way to practice a language is to foster a friendship with other kids that are fluent in that native language. Some kids shy away from using their native language in front of other friends. Have other family members such as adults use their native language with your child to get them to practice the language.
Some families are unique and may include a grandparent in the house that may not be able to speak English. You might also want to see if the grandparent will be willing to speak the target language to your child. This will eventually encourage the kids to use the target language with each other.
Television networks now offer a wide variety of channels in other languages. Some networks even offer kids only channels in Spanish. Look up channel line up for kids shows in the target language and have your child watch the show regularly. This may help improve your child’s listening skills as he/she gets used to the language pace. Look to see if there are any shows that would match your child’s interest such as the animal planet, sports, or cartoons. Check Netflix or other television networks.
Do you know all of your neighbors? You probably live close to a bilingual neighbor that might be willing to have friendly conversations with you and your child. Even if this only happens occasionally, let your child know that this neighbor is a non-English speaker and that it would be great if he/she would greet the neighbor using the target language. This will train your child to be ready to use the language more often.
if you are able to travel to other countries you should consider visiting a country that speaks the language your child is learning. A trip to France, England, or any country where that language is used as the main language. This experience will immerse your child in a language environment and help improve your child’s language proficiency.
This visit will push your child to practice the language with kids around the area or even with adults working as tour guides, restaurant workers, etc. Learning about the culture and seeing many others use the language will encourage him/her to continue to learn the language.
An upgraded technological era allows us to connect with people from around the world. Some companies offer online language classes via Skype, Zoom, and other tutoring services websites. Under supervision, you may be able to connect your child with someone that could tailor the conversation to your child’s interest. The cost of online instruction varies depending on the platform that you use.
One free option to improve a language is by reading out loud. Have your child read text out loud to get him/her to practice fluency. Reading aloud allows the reader to practice the vocabulary used when speaking. Reading out loud helps develop a person’s fluency because the tongue trains itself to pronounciate with ease.
Some websites offer a friendship membership called PenPals. A PenPal friend program allows families to connect with other language speakers by writing to each other using a target language. This is an excellent way to safely practice reading and writing.
PenPals helps learn about other cultures at the same time. If you search for PenPal multiple options will come up as options to sign up. Most PenPal programs are free. Some use online emailing and others use a more traditional form of writing via regular mail.
All of these options provide ways to practice a language. It is important to remember that learning a language takes time and consistency is essential to improve language proficiency.