If you are a teacher or teacher's aid in a classroom where a foreign language is taught, you're likely aware of the fact that some children have a more difficult time than other children when trying to pick up a new language. Some children are inherently gifted with secondary language skills, but others often experience a mental block of sorts. If you're looking for ways to help those children excel in their foreign language studies, here are three tips:
Showing videos where the foreign language is spoken can be a helpful classroom tool, but it's usually more useful to surround children with the language they're attempting to learn. Speak to them in that language. Even if you can't personally speak with the correct accent, it will still help kids to hear a familiar voice. Start with greetings and casual conversation and build from there.
Oftentimes it's best to personalize interaction time to meet the needs of each child. For children who are having an especially hard time, engage with them when they're alone. Children sometimes feel anxious when asked to speak before the rest of their classmates, especially if it's in a language they don't completely grasp yet.
As your students start to learn the basics, encourage them to speak to each other using the language. Split students into small groups and ask them to see how long they can carry on a conversation with each other. This is an enjoyable exercise that teaches them to be creative and use what words they know to get their points across. Ask them to pretend they're in another country and ask how they would interact with others.
Utilize Audio Language Tools
Videos, movies, audio books, and other audio tools like podcasts, audio language courses, and cultural music can all be extremely valuable tools in the classroom. Some children learn a language best by reading. Others need to hear it. For best results, utilize both methods and let kids branch off and use audio tools at least once a week if they would like to. Audio children's books, especially, are often good to try, especially if they're split into chapters and can be divided over the course of a semester.
Make sure to supply the children with headphones so they can learn at their own pace and play back the parts that may be difficult for them. Headphones also give them a little privacy which will help them concentrate. It is easy to find cheap classroom headphones that can make a big difference as learning aids to your students.
Create Language Games
When kids learn a new language, it's always a good idea to try and make the learning process fun. Create games like word puzzles, image matching puzzles, and object matching games to inspire your students and make learning enjoyable. Bring in props whenever you can to help them visualize the items they're learning the words to. As an example, set a day aside to bring in cultural foods that are popular in the countries the language is spoken. This lets kids see a different slice of life, helping them appreciate their daily lessons.
Use the above tips and tools to encourage your children to love learning a new language. Like any type of classroom activity, it's always a good idea to try new approaches. See what approaches work the best and which the children enjoy most. When learning is fun, excelling becomes natural.