Every parent wants their child to do well later on in life, and what better way to give them a good head start than by helping them to become bilingual from a young age?
The French language is important for several reasons; it is used in one of the US’s closest neighbors in parts of Canada, it is often taught in schools, and it can open many doors in the world of international business.
Studies suggest that the earlier people start to learn a language, the quicker they learn. The younger a child is, the more receptive they are in general to picking up new linguistic skills. Helping your child to learn a new language can also be a great bonding experience and fun activity that you can do together on a regular basis.
1. Flash Cards and Fun Games
Images can be great for helping kids to learn, and language trivia and games mean that your children can have fun and learn at the same time! You don’t need to spend a fortune paying for flash cards though – there are numerous websites available, such as Instant Display, where you can download and print your own for free. Alternatively, you can make them yourself if you are in a creative mood. Show an image and drill the name – start with basic things, such as animals, colours, numbers, days of the week, and months, and then gradually increase your child’s vocabulary in this way. You can create your own games using the flash cards – all it takes is a bit of imagination! Try putting them in different parts of the room or house, saying the word, and asking your kid to retrieve the correct image. Or, for even more giggles, reverse the roles whereby your kid says the word and sends you scurrying to find the picture!
2. French Cartoons and Movies
Look for fun and educational French language cartoons and short movies on YouTube. Cartoons are great for little kids, as they sometimes know the main characters, the dialogue is simple, and they capture their interest. Asterix is a famous French cartoon that is also good for children. As your child’s understanding increases you can watch short clips that have more characters, more dialogue, and a greater plot. Perhaps as well as just watching, you could discuss them with your kid – things like what do they think of X character and why? Why is A mad with B? You can also help your kid to check words they are not sure of and keep a vocabulary list. French music, such as nursery rhymes for younger children and pop songs for older kids, are also great for helping your children to speak French well.
3. Get a Nanny
Having a native French nanny is a terrific way to help kids to develop language skills, in a comfortable and natural environment. Children can build a rapport with their nanny and develop incredible confidence. It is also a perfect way for parents to brush up on their language skills! The whole family can benefit from the on-tap language skills of a native French speaker right at home, at all hours of the day and evening.
4. A Blanket and a Tea Set
Yes, as silly as this sounds, a blanket and a tea set is a great resource for helping kids to learn French! Every so often, throw a French picnic or tea party, where children have to get into character and speak as much French as they can! Have French treats, such as different cheeses, pastries and breads, and have a pleasant French themed time with your little ones. Or, consider planning your event around another French theme, such as movies – this fantastic article shows you how to host your own summer Cannes festival! As long as your event arouses your kid’s interest, they will naturally want to take part, thus practicing their new skills and picking up even more.
5. Adopt a Snail
This great idea is operated by Adopt an Escargot. Whilst mainly aimed at school children, parents can just as easily get their kids involved. Essentially, a snail kit will contain a shell and instructions, and children are encouraged to take pictures of, and write stories about, their snail – all in French of course! They can email the company for “advice” about their snail, and receive correspondence back in French. It is wonderfully imaginative and really gets kids interested. Alternatively, why not have your own special French teddy bear and have your child keep a diary about the bear’s activities, thoughts and feelings – using as much French as possible.
Last, but not least just have fun with your kids as they learn the lovely language of French!