Teaching kids a language or two

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Language: it’s what makes you enjoy staring at little black wriggly lines on an electronic screen for hours on end. With that in mind, we might say that ‘language’ is an acquired taste, like vegetables perhaps, and we have our parents to thank for giving us our language. What if you’d need your child to learn two languages though?

Learning a new language is like studying mathematical derivations.

It can happen for many reasons, such as: passing on your native language when living abroad, having grandparents that speak a minority language, you name it. How does one actually go about it in this modern day and age? Apart from speaking your own language at home, here are some things that modern technology has made possible.

The first of these are streaming services like internet TV (and internet radio). Netflix® has high-quality series and films available in many different languages. You can find Chinese, Spanish and English on there to name a few big ones. But the list goes on. You can have different profiles per account, which means that the kids can have one profile (set to child-mode) and you can have your own profile. While it’s true that you can find decent content on YouTube® in different languages if you’re lucky, you’ll be swamped by 3-minute sample clips, illegally ripped series, toy demonstrations and low quality nursery rhymes (including an alphabet song where X is for X-box®). Oh, the humanity!

Technology also comes to the rescue with digital flashcards. When I say flashcards, I basically mean cards with a question (picture of an apple) on one side and an answer (‘apple’) on the other side. That they are digital means you don’t have to carry around a massive stack of cards and that instead it all sits neatly on your smartphone. Flashcards work because, in a sense, language is just a memory game wherein memorising the vocabulary is an essential ingredient. Doing some flashcards with your kids for five minutes a day will really boost their vocabulary. Arguably, this is all pretty standard knowledge. However, the magic bit is that, if you schedule the flashcards just right (using this awesome bit of free software), you can keep literally hundreds and hundreds of flashcards in your child’s memory with only minutes of practice a day.