Have you ever considered introducing a second language at home?
Perhaps your child is learning a second language in school, or perhaps you have friends and family who speak another language that could be helpful for your children to learn. No matter your reasoning, introducing another language can be an incredible gift to a child.
“But…how?”, you may be wondering- especially if you don’t know a second language yourself.
It is 100% possible to learn a new language alongside your child, and children’s books are an incredible tool to help you do just that.
Why children’s books specifically?
We can usually grasp the basic storyline of a children’s book without actually reading it. The simplicity of the stories, the use of repetition, and big beautiful images, make children’s books incredible language learning tools.
What if I don’t know how to read in the target language?
Here are my tips to help you read a book in another language:
Start simple. Choose books with large images, a lot of repetition, and minimal writing on each page.
Download the Google translate app. As long as there’s a regular style font, there’s an option to translate directly onto the page with your phone’s camera! This way you know what’s being said, but you can also listen to the pronunciation of the words.
Do a quick search on YouTube for videos of children’s books being read aloud by someone else. Write down some titles in your target language, and then visit your local library, or order some of those books. You and your child can enjoy turning the pages of the physical book while listening to the story being read by the reader in the video.
This is very helpful since you can: underline the words with your finger, pause when needed, and allow your child to explore the book at their own pace.
Eventually, you’ll be able to read the book on your own, without the help of the video!
P.S. repetition is incredible for language learning- be sure to read the same books several times!
Here at Cardinal Rule Press, we are happy to help you with resources for your bookstore or library. Get your Freebie here!
Which books should I choose?
Choose books with images that explain the story well, with lots of repetition. We don’t want to choose books that are too wordy or complicated as it may discourage both you and your child from learning.
Is there a book that could help you learn some vocabulary about a specific activity?
Example: I just ordered a children’s French book about bubbles, because I plan on reading it with my children and then using our new vocabulary to play with bubbles outside.
Using new vocabulary during fun activities is a great opportunity for language practice. It can be really helpful to find a children’s book to accompany that activity.
Let your child choose a book in the target language. If your child is involved in the choosing, they’ll be that much more likely to take interest in reading it.
Can I use the books we have at home already?
Absolutely! Even if you don’t have a children’s book in the target language, there are several ways you can use the books you have already to support your learning.
Ask your child to find various animals, items, or colors found within the pages.
Count pictures or items that you see on a page. Click here to view a free French reading cheat sheet!
- Talk about the facial expressions of the characters found within the pages. Example: If you were learning French, you could talk about which child they think is “content” = happy, and which one is “triste” = sad.
It’s not just about the words found within children’s books that makes them excellent learning tools- the supporting visuals are incredibly helpful as well.
I hope this blog post helps inspire you to practice a new language with your child!
Don't forget to download your Freebie!
Amy Warr, or “Madame Amy” as her participants call her, is the founder of 123 Petits Pas Inc. which offers fun virtual French programming for families, and music & movement-based professional development opportunities for educators. With a background in French teaching and theater, Amy aims to make language learning an incredible bonding experience for her participants. Follow her on Instagram for French cheat sheets, language learning activities, and more!