Language development is one of the key indicators of a child’s cognitive growth. With the known benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism – increased career opportunities, enhanced executive functions, and delayed dementia onset, to name a few – more parents are beginning to take their child’s language education seriously, rather than leaving it to chance.
But when memorising vocab feels tedious, and you’re running out of books to read at the end of your library borrowing cycle, what else can you do to engage your child in language learning? It is difficult to teach an unmotivated child. So, having some fresh activities up your sleeves to excite them is always much needed!
The truth is, there are plenty of fun activities to prevent language learning from feeling stale and boring! They aren’t great just for English; they can be used to motivate your child in a second language as well! Here are some wonderful ideas for fun-filled language learning:
Play with words!
The best way to cultivate a love for words and language is to show them the endless potentials of it! No matter what language your child is learning, there are bound to be some interesting tongue-twisters, riddles, and limericks to have fun with. Try your hands at some tongue-twisters to practice pronunciation and create some hilarious moments!
Many riddles, jokes, and poems rely on wordplay, making them wonderful introductions to puns, alliteration, and rhymes. Up for a bit of a challenge? Pick a decently long word, like ‘encyclopaedia’, and do the anagram challenge! Basically, the task is to see how many different words you can make out of the letters of the set word.
Learn a new song
Give your child’s eyes a break from reading and writing, and use those ears instead! Songs and music are amazing learning tools, especially children’s songs. The repetition and sequential nature of nursery songs are made to be remembered, so they are great for helping kids memorise concepts and lists, like new vocabulary words.
For a bit more language fun, you can set them on a creative exercise to rewrite the lyrics to a familiar melody. Apart from being a platform to express themselves, this also boosts their sensitivity to the rhythm and rhyme of language.
Cooking and language learning may sound like an odd combination, but it works! You might be surprised at the number of new words there is to learn from cooking or baking, from the names of ingredients, to the terms used for various cooking processes. Using a recipe also exposes them to the format of how instructions are delivered – in the imperative form.
To take the activity to the next level, you can ask your child to give the instructions, to practise phrasing directive statements. Alternatively, you can challenge yourselves to learn from a recipe written or spoken in your child’s second language!
How well can you or your child describe things? Vivid descriptions are an essential part of creative writing, and that’s what this activity will seek to nurture. Set up a simple scavenger hunt right at home by hiding written clues and a little prize at the end. Each clue should use words to describe an object or area of the house, where the next clue will be hidden.
If you’d like to put a little more effort into it, you can incorporate some little poems, word games like hangman, or riddles into the clues. These mini word games will let your child exercise some creative problem-solving and language manipulation skills, in order to find the ‘treasure’!
Language learning doesn’t have to be all about sitting down and reading or writing. For young children in kindergarten or primary school, having some hands-on activities is great for motivating and engaging them in language learning. What’s most important is to seize teachable moments and instil a thirst for learning in the everyday.
Another significant contributor to your child’s language learning is their school. Apart from choosing your preferred programme like the IB programme, make it a point to look for an international school in Singapore that uses a variety of activities to engage children. After all, the best learning for children should feel effortless and natural, just like play!