As with most learning, when it comes to learning a language, the act of revisiting and practising what has been seen in the language classroom can really help learners develop a greater understanding and confidence.
Take learning our mother tongue as a baby for example. We are not limited to a few hours of formalised teaching per week – but more so our brains are constantly listening, reading and practising the language; making mistakes, reviewing and having another go. The more we try to recreate this when acquiring another language, the better the success rate will be.
Some of the most important things to remember is that whatever you manage to do will help, and you as parents do not have to have any proficiency in the language to get involved. It could be that you embark on a language learning journey alongside your child – seeing each other learn and improve can be very satisfying.
We all know that everyone’s schedules are different and so are individual’s learning preferences. Whatever works best for you is what we recommended you do. Be it over breakfast at the weekend, in the car during the school run or even something a bit more formal like a 10-minute session sat down at the table – anything you can do will definitely pay dividends and help your child progress in and ultimately enjoy learning a language.
Here are a few tips and techniques to help you and your child to practise and deepen understanding of languages beyond the classroom and at home.
Talk to your child about what they’ve been learning recently
This doesn’t have to be every day as that could risk it feeling like a chore, but every now and then touch base with them. Ask them to teach you some vocab or some phrases that they have recently seen in class. Create a mind map or poster together and review and correct any potential mistakes together using an online dictionary such as www.wordreference.com. Giving them that ownership and opportunity to teach an adult something will help fire up those neurons!
Make revision fun
Making flashcards (English on one side and the Target Language on the other) is an easy yet effect way to learn/ revise key vocabulary. These can then be used to play games such as Timed translations (see who can get through the pile the quickest) or YES NO (see who makes the fewest errors ). Using colour-coding, post-it notes and posters around the house, funny mnemonics (amusing sentences to help remember the spellings of tricky words) can all help to cement new language into the brains.
Vocabulary booklets are available on the school website, detailing what your child has, is currently and will be studying.
Use technology to your advantage
These days, access to technology is so simple and with proper use it can most certainly aid the learning of languages. Some of these will already be familiar to some of you, but do check them out.
As the Digital Strategy broadens over time, these will be used more in the classroom via the Surface Gos and so children will become more familiar with these options:
(MFL) Duolingo : Available as a standalone app or via a web browser, Duolingo gamifies language learning and aims to help writing, speaking, listening and reading in several languages. It’s free and great to expose those keen linguists to other world languages.
(MFL) Quizlet : Another free website that is geared to helping learn vocab and phrases. There are several already made vocab lists on there with audio options to help with pronunciation.
(French MFL ) https://www.french-games.net/frenchgames There are several fun and interactive games on this website covering an array of relevant topics.
(French MFL & Spanish) http://www.crickweb.co.uk/ks2french.html
Similar to the French Games – several games covering basic essential French vocab.
BBC Teach and Bitesize – A great wealth of easily accessible / worded explanations of key pieces of language.
(French) Learn French For Beginners (Also available for Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Mandarin & Arabic) This easy-to-use app is great for learning new vocab and revisiting some of the basics. It uses lessons, courses, audio, activities and quizzes to keep you on track.
LanguageGym – Those in Prep 3 and above will start to become familiar with the LanguageGym. This website provides engaging ways to develop all skill areas. We also incorporate resources made by the creators of this website (language teachers themselves) such as Sentence Builders and various other activities to maximise learning opportunities.
YouTube – If there is something that your child is finding tricky (a certain grammatical rule perhaps) have a quick search on YouTube to see if there is a video to help. The likelihood is that your child is not the first person to find that thing tricky, so there will more than likely be a video on there that may help.
Streaming services such as Netflix or Prime – There are several shows and movies available that have either other language audio or the option to put up subtitles in another language. Any exposure to the spoken or written word is beneficial.
Voice Recorder – Using a Voice Recording app on a device can be a good way for children to practise speaking the language and hearing themselves is a great way for them to work on accent and intonation or to give themselves a pat on the back for sounding so good! This is also a good way to help during Speaking Assessments higher up the school. Please do encourage the children to email voice recordings to us using the email addresses below – giving language a purpose is the key thing.
Online Translators such as Google Translate are fine for single words or phrases or perhaps to quickly check what you’ve written makes sense, however we teach the children not steer clear of them as it can often be too tempting to rely on it to do it all for you! We use the analogy :
Using a translator for whole texts is like rocking up to the Great British Bake Off with a ready-made supermarket cake – it’s obvious that it wasn’t home-made , it looks lazy and you might look like a plonker! Ultimately, it’s not really helping your language learning.
We have created a small booklet of key vocab and grammar suitable for each phase of the school. This list is not exhaustive, but incorporates the outline of what your children will have or will be seeing. These booklets, separated into : Pre-Prep, Middle and Upper School, are available as a pdf on the languages section of the school website.
We hope that you have found this information document useful. Remember that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to language learning. We are all different and that is a good thing – whatever you can do can and will help.
As ever, please do not hesitate to contact us should you need any help or guidance about supporting your child’s language learning.
Allan Hempsted (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Gabriel Thomas (email@example.com)