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Supporting your child learning foreign languages

(29 Posts)
Greenleave Mon 09-Jan-17 13:24:37

Anyone has any succesful experience and/or good tips/recommendations on tutors/classes/summer camps anything you did and/or are doing to help your child learning foreign languages that you would share. My year 4 has been learning French in school and going to a weekend 30mins class for a year and still cant be able to say much(or any). It could be because we are particularly bad at languagues as the household and/or(I try to reassure myself) that we havent got the right approach yet. I am not aiming for any particular language, any additional is good, better that she can speak the language when its needed, reading and writting isnt as important.

2014newme Mon 09-Jan-17 13:27:16

What is the reason why you want her to be good at french? I work for a French company we all speak English at work. I studied french up to uni level and never use it.

Greenleave Mon 09-Jan-17 13:53:22

There isnt a particular reason to be honest, she learns French at school as a foreign language and we go to France at least twice a year for holiday because they are next to us. I dont mind for her to learn any particular one, just hoping for her to be able to speak couple of other languages without living in the country to be able to do it.

2014newme Mon 09-Jan-17 14:30:41

Coding would be the most useful language she could learn.

Greenleave Mon 09-Jan-17 14:39:35

2014: Agreed, that is another problem(which I havent been able to deal with either). However it could be focused on later as I am sure in 10yrs times things will change and much of the coding world will come to universal, more tools to help too, easier to understand, decode. For now, with a 9 yrs old, I am more hoping on "real" languages.

blankmind Mon 09-Jan-17 14:50:00

Not everyone finds learning languages easy, if your child is struggling and doesn't want to continue, then find something better suited to their aptitudes.

If your child's interested, then have a look at free online stuff you can do together. There are loads available.
Start with the easy ones and work up. e.g.

Dedicate a set 10 mins of only French to be spoken a few evenings a week, but only IF your child is interested enough, make it fun.
Games and videos

Solasum Mon 09-Jan-17 14:51:43

Try Duolingo

Greenleave Mon 09-Jan-17 15:08:11

Thanks, we have Duolingo however havent been using much. Will try the links sent by Blankmind too. Thank you

Mistigri Mon 09-Jan-17 19:46:06

It really depends what you mean by learning a language.

"Academic" language learning is mostly not terribly successful - the majority of people with a GCSE are nowhere close to "speaking a foreign language" - many don't even have the basic functional standard that would enable them to get by. I did A level French but didn't really learn to speak French until I lived in France! Learning languages outside an immersion setting is hard.

Duolingo and similar apps (eg Babbel for older kids and adults) are quite good, but you need to be very motivated to go beyond simple tourist language just using classroom or home study.

If you're serious about this, hire a native speaker as a childminder, and buy a bunch of DVDs in the language concerned. My DD who is in a bilingual school program finds watching Spanish TV series very helpful (I buy the DVDs on

onlymusic Mon 09-Jan-17 20:30:16

The advice I once heard is to find a native speaker university student and pay them to talk to your child about anything in the language required.
The advice came from the university professors though-they obviously could access dozens of foreign students....

onlymusic Mon 09-Jan-17 20:31:26

Some of my friends use skype for learning languages, you can get formal tutoring or just talking-everything you want with whoever you want. I was thinking about this route too but idea is still strange to me...

Greenleave Mon 09-Jan-17 20:39:29

Misti: my aim is for her to actually be able to commucate it/them, we dont aim for any academic goal. She is fluent in our native and be able to read and write in a very good standard, no issue with fireign language for gcse (long) later. We did hire a French tutor coming to the house to teach French for 6 months and it still doesnt help, I thought 1-2-1 doesnt do it so I switched into group lessons, still it doesnt go anywhere. She isnt comfortable to speak a sentence for the whole 2 weeks we were in France for Christmas. It doesnt need to be French, any language is fine. Having a foreign carer is a great idea however could have been better when they are younger, I should have done it. Both music and languagues are only to enrich her life, for fun too, there isnt any fun if she doesnt make progress. I thought of giving up however I have someone cried a river a said that she'd like to learn it, being able to talk alittle, its cool travelling and being able to speak the languague a little(more). We just dont know how to do it yet. May be residencial course every year.

Greenleave Mon 09-Jan-17 20:52:43

Only, great idea on having a native speaker who talks to with "no actual lesson". I have heard of skype too, will google it tonight.

se22mother Mon 09-Jan-17 21:39:21

Green, if you are able to engage in small amounts of basic conversation with her, e.g. Going to the supermarket;albeit in London) and conducting basics conversation she will follow your example. Admittedly you need a grasp of the language but listening to normal chat has helped my dd

Mistigri Mon 09-Jan-17 22:01:16

Green it takes time, more time than you think. Like your DD my DD has been raised bilingual so has a natural advantage in learning another language.. She also seems to have some natural aptitude. Nevertheless it was only after three and a half years of school Spanish (3 hours a week) that she started to become confident about chatting to a native speaker (albeit with the help of Google translate for vocab!). She did a 10 day exchange around this time which helped.

You need to have a European level B1 to be able to function on a day to day basis in a foreign language, B2 to be able to comfortably converse with native speakers - outside of complete immersion it takes years to get to that level.

Greenleave Mon 09-Jan-17 22:29:29

Se22: I thought of learning it with her too. I am soooo lazyyyy.
Misti: I know it will take time, maybe I only have to learn to be patient. Thinking of carry on with the weekend lessons, sending her away to a residential course once a year then once she is bigger she could find other ways to learn it herself if she wants to.

onlymusic Mon 09-Jan-17 22:37:36

When dd was taking private french lesdons her teacher did it this way-she was saying for example red ball-my book-i go-big yellow lemon, etc in french or english and dd had to translate it into english or french. I liked that. This is sort of good pre conversation practice. but i don't doeak french for example and would be able to help....

mja100 Mon 09-Jan-17 23:15:55

You could try Linguascope, this is a fab website I use with my students. There are several languages, including French and Spanish and it provides lots of fun games for children aged 6+. You can't subscribe to the actual website as an individual but they've recently released apps with the content in instead. My students love

Mistigri Tue 10-Jan-17 06:06:39

maybe I only have to learn to be patient

Yes ;) she's been learning one year. The only way to get a child speaking a foreign language in a year is complete immersion, and even then it can take longer than you think (it depends on the child but for many, a full year of immersion at school is required for them to start talking).

I remember being shocked when in her third year of school Spanish my DD was unable to give much assistance to a lost Spanish tourist who stopped to ask us for directions. But a year later she was able to converse with her Spanish exchange partner (albeit with vocabulary help from Google) - there is a "breakthrough" point with languages where you have enough of the vocab and language structure to be able to get by.

In european languages you need a vocabulary of about 1500 words to start being comfortable in a range of "tourist" situations (good european level A2) and 2000-2500 words to start being able to communicate more confidently with native speakers (B1-B2). My best guess is that outside of immersion (and excluding the already-multilingual or the naturally gifted), for a bright, attentive school age child it will take at least 300 hours of school study to reach a solid A2 standard and a further 200 hours minimum for B1 (less with individual lessons of course but it will still take hundreds of hours, not tens!).

Basically, duolingo, babble and other apps are great at what they do - teaching basic vocab to tourists and business travellers - but to actually "speak" a language in any meaningful way takes a long time and contact with native speakers.

CelestialTree Tue 10-Jan-17 06:15:07

DD has had DH speaking French to her since the day she was born. She is now 4 and speaks the odd word. Absolutely no sentence structure whatsoever, maybe the occasional two or three words together.

Her biggest language leap in German came from watching My Little Pony on repeat - Santa messed up and managed to deliver a German only dvd, and now she has started school it has improved dramatically. Because she wants to interact with the other children.

So, from our experiences, I would suggest trying to find French speaking children to invite over and lots of tv wink

Greenleave Tue 10-Jan-17 07:33:11

Thank you CelestialTree, its always a bonus if you live in a country and/or has a parent speaking the language. We dont have an issue with maintaining our native language even she was born in uk. I have rules in this household that everyone has to speak in our own language and she learns to read and write the last couple of years. The last 3 years or so I usually write her notes, read her books in our native and it comes naturally easily(I have a whole children bookcase in our language, I stocked up everytime we go home). I have been doing the same with French but hardly of the books are touched.
Misti: thanks for your info, it does sound alot. I dont mind if it has to take time and if she is slow, as long as she makes progress and be able to make her learning useful (helpful and fun).

irvineoneohone Tue 10-Jan-17 09:00:44

I know you don't like learning from computer, but Duolingo and Memrise seems to be working for my ds.
He sets everyday targets for himself, and seems to be learning so much. We also watch you tube French cartoon as well. Actually that was the reason why he started learning French in the first place. He sings in French, plays computer games in French mode rather than English mode.

Greenleave Tue 10-Jan-17 12:47:22

Irvine: hahaha, you do know me, I think I am too extreme where I glue my face to the 4 massive screens daily for at least 10hrs at work and have to know some coding then I want my children to stay away from the computer, internet and close to tge nature as much as possible. Another issue is I dont have control during the day in term of what she looks at through computer and internet as I am not home. Still, thanks so much for sharing, I will think of its benefit and find a controlled way for her to utilise these tools.

lovelearning Tue 10-Jan-17 14:54:01

I have rules in this household that everyone has to speak in our own language

Greenleave star

Greenleave Tue 10-Jan-17 20:53:13

Any of you have arranged an abroad residential trip for your children to learn the language and the culture? How did you book it? Any recommendation please?

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