The earlier we put children in contact with other languages, the greater the possibilities of success in the end result. To facilitate this type of learning we must follow a set of premises.
How to set up the first experiences with other languages?
Firstly, it is useful to know the basic strategies children use to learn a language such as imitation and repetition; first they imitate words others use, and then they incorporate the meaning. Bearing this in mind, it is also convenient to:
- Take into account the ability and needs of the child and choose materials appropriate to his vocabulary level.
- Opt for a games-based approach. Games help the child to reinforce his own thoughts and to practise structures that are unknown to him before he has assimilated them.
- Promote the perception of language as a means of communication, to express themselves and to understand others, and not just as something they have to learn.
- Reading can be a way to turn practising a language into a motivational game, far from obligations. Songs, rhymes, repetitive structures, game possibilities, each of which can use different reading materials, facilitate long-term learning.
What to do to play, enjoy and learn languages by reading?
- Use adequate materials: attractive and entertaining, and which ease the development of didactic proposals directed at familiarising children with the alphabet, vocabulary and consolidating grammar basics.
- Encourage reading aloud, the repetition and dramatization of texts. Interaction with the text is a basic premise to improve the reader’s reception, to help him have fun by repeating memorised fragments or applying strategies that make the story his own.
- Support the narration with gestures, movement or vocabulary cards. This is especially important in the early stages, when children need lots of visual support to become involved in the story.
- Use music. Children’s songs are full of rhymes and repetitions, which is why they are a wonderful resource to acquire pronunciation and intonation.
- Use reading materials that reflect aspects of the culture of destiny. Stories, songs and information books on children’s adventures in other countries will capture the young reader’s attention.
- Integrate digital supports as a different reading, learning and playing platform. These mediums provide an interactivity that offers to facilitate active participation in the reading experience.
- Go to libraries and specialised bookshops, in search of advice concerning books, on-line resources, etc.
- In general, children express motivation and curiosity when faced with a story in a foreign language. To this advantage we can add the possibilities in children’s books that contribute to the development of specific skills associated with this type of learning.