Although English is spoken around the globe, ex-pat children who learn the language of their adopted country will acclimate faster and feel more confident overall. Here are six ways parents can help break the foreign language barrier.
Sign Up for Foreign Language Classes
Before moving, consider enrolling your children and yourself in language classes to learn common words and phrases. Practice at home, communicating in both languages. After the move, find a local tutor to increase fluency.
Focus on Common Words
Start small, and begin by using familiar words and phrases. Linguistic experts agree that talking about everyday actions in the second language — as you are doing them — facilitates faster learning. Focus on words or phrases they will hear, such as what their teachers might say in school. If they have extracurricular activities, practice some of the words their instructors might use.
Be a Model
Repeat words and phrases. Use activities or games that engage your child’s imagination, while also introducing new words. Find their favorite books in their new language and read them together.
Use Social Media
If your new location has an online presence, try finding families with children who are similar in age to yours. Use parent-approved emails, texts, phone calls, or video chats so your kids will have friends before you even arrive.
Immerse in Local Culture
Before you move, look for organizations that represent your future country, language, and culture. Make plans to attend a meeting or special event. Use internet resources to learn about your new location’s customs, terminology, history, and local activities. Plan several family activities, giving the kids something to look forward to once you move. Researching your new location will also help generate positive feelings and reduce anxiety.
Look Into Other Foreign Language Resources
Older children might enjoy online video tutorials that mesh with their busy schedules. Visit restaurants to practice ordering in their new language. Watch movies or TV shows to see which words or phrases they recognize.