As more students begin to enroll in language immersion programs across the globe, it is important for parents to find ways to engage their children and get involved in their learning, even if they don’t know the target language. For any new skill children pick up, positive reinforcement from home can be extremely beneficial in solidifying long-term gains because it integrates it into more than one setting.
When children see their parents modeling skills that boost language learning, they are more likely to develop an intrinsic motivation in their language skills as well. This can aid in retention and provide a solid foundation for learning more languages in the future. Read on to discover eight ways that parents can support their language immersion student from home.
1. Read with and to them
When you regularly read to your children, you instill a love of reading and model how to read with fluency and expression. Reading is often one of the first skills children develop when learning a new language, too, so it’s a great way to get them excited about showing their progress. Depending on their age, you could read a longer chapter book to them or you can take turns each reading a sentence to keep them engaged.
2. Encourage curiosity
Ask your children open-ended questions about what they are learning in school. Motivate them to question the world around them. Curiosity is a core competency of global leadership as global citizens have a genuine desire to learn about and experience the world. Language and culture are intertwined, so finding ways to explore what’s happening outside of a student’s immediate environment can help in the language immersion experience as well.
3. Applaud effort
Emphasize the value of acquiring another language, and recognize your student’s progress and accomplishments. Did they finish their first book in a target language? Did they use a new vocabulary word correctly? Did they try to improve their writing skills? No matter the accomplishment, praise your child for their effort and determination in working toward their goals. When students become excited about the progress they are making, their motivation will continue to grow over time.
4. Develop study skills
Ask the teacher how much homework to expect and regularly set aside time to work on it. Remember that homework is the student’s responsibility and encourage them to be accountable by following up with them later. By emphasizing the importance of a strong work ethic, you are developing your student’s foundation for autonomy and a sense of pride for their hard work and dedication to learning a new language.
5. Become involved
Become involved in your child’s school experience by volunteering in the immersion classroom or helping with materials, activities, or field trips. If making it to the classroom during the week isn’t a possibility, consider setting up a playdate with a classmate on the weekends so they can practice their new language skills together. However you decide to get involved, understanding a bit more about your child’s classroom can be beneficial for you both, and your child will appreciate the effort.
6. Create cultural experiences
Extend cultural experiences beyond the classroom. Take your child to an international event such as a cultural festival. Go to a restaurant that offers authentic food related to your student’s target language. By finding ways to engage with organizations in your area that offer cultural experiences, your child will begin to feel more connected to their own local community as well as the larger global community.
7. Use technology
Use apps, movies, TV, or the internet to increase the amount of time your child spends engaging in the immersion language. Do they have a favorite show or movie they watch? Set the language to the target language or add subtitles to the bottom so they are learning the language around something familiar. Also, using online language games can be a fun and interactive way to incentivize language learning from home.
8. Communicate with teachers
Keep the lines of communication open. When talking to your child’s teacher, be honest about your concerns and receptive to their advice. Language immersion teachers are experts in their field and you, as the parent, are an expert on your child, so together you can find ways to boost learning at school and at home in a way that is effective and suitable for your child’s needs. Collaboration and listening are key to finding best practices!