In this new series, I'll be sharing some multisensory language learning ideas, which will help you to teach languages to your young children in a fun, engaging way. If you're not teaching languages however, most of these activities can be adapted to fit many themes in your own language too!
A is for...
AQUABEADSAquabeads or water beads are a cheap and easy way to add a simple sensory element to your learning. Children love the feel of them and they are quite therapeutic to play with!
Ideas for using in language learning:
- Learn colours - separate them into pots and say the name of the colour every time a bead is dropped in. Begin to build short sentences in the foreign language by saying, "What colour is it?" and getting children to answer with, "It is red." In German this would translate to, "Welche Farbe ist das?" "Das ist rot." Children will soon be answering you with the phrase rather than one word. Repetition is key!
- Hide objects in them - Children find an item and have to say its name in the target language. You could ask them to find something in particular, and ask them to say, "Here is the _______ ." This will reinforce any new vocabulary.
- Hide laminated flashcards in them - Ask children to find a flashcard and say the name of the object or word on it in the target language. Make sure they are waterproof though!
- Count them - Count the beads in to different pots or containers using the target language.
Language apps are great for teaching and reinforcing languages, especially for today's technologically advanced kids! Both mine could use a tablet pretty early on, so these appealed to them.
Language learning apps are a great alternative to other toddler / young child friendly apps out there, and are handy for keeping them entertained when you're out and about. Some are totally free, some have free elements with in-app purchases, and some you have to buy outright. Just remember to disable your in-app purchases in your device settings if you don't want a surprise bill!
Don't be put off if you yourself can not speak another language - you'd be surprised at how quickly children pick it up!
Here are our favourites:
- Gus on the Go - We love the German version, but there are over 30 languages to choose from and for a small price (£3.99) you can have access to the whole programme. There are 90 words to learn through 10 fun activities and audio clips covering lots of basic topics like numbers, colours and animals. There are even free downloads you can print off in different languages too. This is suitable for even the youngest learners as reading is not necessary as long as the volume is up!
- Duolingo - With over 20 languages to choose from, this free app is great for learning a new language together. There is quite a bit of reading involved so I'd suggest using this together with your young child, letting them press on the right answers as you learn together.
- Little Pim - This app has 12 languages to choose from and is designed for children from 0-6 years old. We love the little videos that introduce new vocabulary and simple sentences, including how to ask a related questions, plural forms and personal pronouns (he/she, etc). It's costly at just under £34 per volume (with 180 words and phrases to learn in each), but has a lot to offer and is a great investment.
Have you got any activities beginning with A which could be used to help learn languages? I'd love to know! Why not leave me a comment below? And don't forget to check back soon for the next letter in the series - B!
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Finding joy in the little things: I love the look on my daughter's face when we get the aquabeads out! She loves the feel of them running through her fingers, and gets very excited when I tell her there are objects hidden in them.
My son is really enjoying the Gus on the Go app. He plays it by himself and confidently repeats the words out loud. He loves being rewarded for getting things right by the game unlocking a new level. I really recommend you try it!