Tips for parents helping kids learn a language

Top 10 Language Learning Tips for Parents

Tips for parents helping kids learn a language

Language learning doesn’t have to be boring – here are some top language learning tips for parents, to change learning at home from a chore to a treat!

There are so many ways that an additional language can improve our kids’ lives. Language learning develops their cognitive and academic development, boosts their confidence, and bring them improved career opportunities.

Unfortunately, the way languages are usually taught, most kids grow to hate language learning. After a few years of learning, most never remember more than a few words. That’s because language learning doesn’t have built-in rewards. Language learning by itself isn’t intrinsically rewarding for kids (especially if they’re in a country where the language they’re learning isn’t spoken much).

It’s hard for us as parents to help our children learn, especially when faced with a number of problems for our little learners:

  • Language learning is a multi-year process
  • It’s often learned abstractly, and not linked to real-life scenarios
  • They have no choice in what or how they learn
  • Their learning materials are too old, boring, or repetitive

However, there is hope! With a few small tweaks and a small amount of time every week, you can turn boring lessons into time your kids look forward to.

Language Learning Tips for Parents

Here are the ten language learning tips for parents that will turn even the most reluctant language learner into a language enthusiast:

Tip 1: use lots of materials

Too much repetition destroys motivation. Yet repetition is the key to successful language learning. So how do we solve this? By using a range of materials. Use songs, videos, graded readers, comics, jokes, puzzles, recipes and games. 

Use apps like those we make here at Studycat!

There’s so much learning material on the internet, that using only a textbook is a motivation killer.

Tip 2: give them choices

Another great way to maintain motivation is to give your kids a choice. Being told what to do all the time isn’t much fun. Let them choose between topics, or learning materials, or activities they’d like to do (but not all at once!). The trick is to give them a limited choice, so they still focus on a weaker area, or a topic they need to revise.

Tip 3: be enthusiastic

There’s nothing more boring in a lesson than having a teacher who’s more bored than you. It’s the same when you help your kids at home – if you’re always checking your phone and clearly not enjoying your time together, they won’t enjoy it either.

So put your phone down, engage with your child, and let language learning turn into some quality time together.

Tip 4: get them to teach you

Let them be the teacher for a change! So often we fall into the habit of telling our kids what to do. It can frustrate them without us realising it, and erode their confidence.

So give them some of that power back and let them be the teacher for a while! Let them choose the activity, pretend that you’ve forgotten a word or phrase and let them proudly correct you.

Tip 5: set a schedule

A habit feels less like a chore once it becomes part of a regular routine. So set a regular routine for language learning – as regular as brushing your teeth! As you make that time more enjoyable with these tips, your little one will also start looking forward to it!

Tip 6: ask questions

As well as learning at a regular time, ask them questions at irregular moments. So if you’re in a cafe with them, ask them how to ask for a drink in the language you’re learning. Or the name of the food they’re eating. The more frequently they have to recall vocabulary in the target language, the better they’ll remember it.

Tip 7: personalise!

In ‘Tip 1’ we talked about using a wide range of learning materials – it’s also important to personalise these. No materials will be perfect for every student. You know your child best of all, so use their interests and passions to enhance their learning. Adapt phrases to include their favourite celebrities, ask them to use their favourite shows or toys as examples in sentences, and so on.

Tip 8: make a picture dictionary

When they’re getting started, record each new vocabulary item in a personalised dictionary. It’s fun, fast and will help them remember.

Tip 9: record their learning journey

Record their progress! Take little videos on your phone of conversation, or them saying a sentence or two. They can pretend they’re a character from a movie or book. Then when they’re losing motivation in the future, or are unsure how much better they’ve gotten, show them an old recording and boost their confidence.

Tip 10: give lots of praise

Lastly, don’t forget to give lots of encouragement. Language learning is difficult, and motivation is easily lost. If they get lots of praise from you, it’ll make them proud. Just remember to praise their effort and hard work, so they know that they don’t base their self-worth on being good, but on trying their best.