Learning French with your child can be an incredible experience. Children are hardwired to pick up the languages surrounding them. Adults, on the other hand, need a bit more work for their brains to make the shift. However, there is an easy solution for this – learn French, as if you were a child again, with your child. Children are engaged with language quite differently, the ways in which they interact with the world is a direct reflection of their interests, creativity, and personalities. If you’re a parent and interested as to how you can learn French together with your child, here are 5 methods to get you started.
1. Learn How to Role-Play
The power of a child’s imagination is astounding. The ways in which children use their imagination for problem solving, comprehension and creativity is a phenomenon. In fact, they might be able to teach you a few things if you’re willing to go the extra mile. If you’re a busy parent and you notice that your child seems bored, don’t hesitate to ask them of their favourite cartoon character. Then later that same evening you can surprise them by showing up with a Barney, SpongeBob, or Disney character puppet who speaks French. The purpose of role-play is to break out of comfort zones. Learning a language isn’t meant to be a comfortable experience. It’s supposed to feel as strange and as new as possible. Of course, not all children are into mainstream cartoon characters so it’s crucial that you find the right role-play scenario to make this method work.
2. Take Time Off
Life gets away from us sometimes as adults, but this doesn’t mean we should ignore our children for extended periods of time. Children look to their parents as their trusted chat buddies. Take time off from your busy work schedule occasionally and have simple conversations with your child. If you’re both new to French then you’re bound to make grammatical errors along the way. Despite that, the important thing is that you are both learning French together. This also strengthens the parent-child bond and can make a significant difference in future communication.
3. Acknowledge the Imaginary Friend
Many children have imaginary friends, I know I did. His name was Spike, and Spike listened to me when my mother worked 9-5 and left me with the Nanny. Imaginary friends are important in developing conversational awareness since they act as an extension of a child’s personality. This is very beneficial when it comes to developing a second language due to the fact that personality is correlated with language acquisition. A sure way to get involved in your child’s language learning journey is to ask if “Spike” wants to go for a joyride in the car or play in the park.
4. Remember that Communication is a Two-Way Street
Creativity goes a mighty long way in language learning. If a child notices that you’re not giving them enough attention they will become frustrated and eventually stop trying. Learning French together is a two-way street, the moment one of you stops speaking, a divide forms in the relationship. As the adult, it’s your responsibility to make sure that NEVER happens. If you’re both starting to learn French from the beginning stages, even using a few French words throughout your day-to-day life helps. Try using sock puppets, storybooks, or drama scenarios to deliver understandable plain language to your child.
5. Remodelling Your House into A Mini France
Children learn best through exposure, and what better way to expose them to French than transforming your house into a mini version of France or Quebec? Start cooking French meals, wearing French clothing, and painting French art for your bland walls. Culture is the background language. Therefore, having your child live in an immersive environment can help in their motivation and passive acquisition of the language. Not to mention, all the cool cultural values you’ll both be learning together. This little experiment may even push you far enough to book a trip to Montreal or even Paris, France to learn French together!