Proficiency in a second language has many advantages: access to millions more people around the world; career opportunities; cognitive benefits; appreciation and enjoyment of cultural diversity; greater mastery of English.
For your middle/teen-age child, language learning can help to develop those much needed social skills: openness to others, tolerance of differences, expression of opinions, and compassion.
It takes many years to become competent in another language: With all the distractions that middle and high school students have in their lives, how can you keep your child motivated to continue studying until he or she attains a level of proficiency to have a useful skill?
The best experience is total immersion in the other language and culture; a trip to a country where the language is spoken. Your child will have to speak the language! Also, he or she can help the family by interpreting. A trip to a country where the language is spoken is a great motivator. Summer camps where teens speak the language during their stay are a good alternative. The following are some easy ways to Encourage Middle-Schoolers to Love Foreign Languages.
Easy Ways to Encourage Middle-Schoolers to Love Foreign Languages | Low-Cost Ideas
Finding someone who speaks the language who is willing to have conversations with your child is a great motivation. You may have a friend, relative or neighbor who is a native speaker of that language. That person could be you! Having a native speaker who is the same age as your child is even more effective.
HINT: If this is impossible, find a pen pal in the country of that language. Your child can connect with the penpal in so many ways: via Skype, Twitter, Instagram.
Easy Ways to Encourage Middle-Schoolers to Love Foreign Languages | Take Advantage of Your Child Interests
Teens will make an extra effort if they are truly motivated. If your child has a special interest (sports, fashion, science, etc.), try to find a magazine or an app in the language that has an article about that subject. If you are visiting the country, arrange a visit with an event or person connected to that subject.
Social media and apps
Find bilingual sources for your child’s favorite movies, shows, comics and games. Youtube has entertaining shows written for high school language students.
There are sites and apps, such as Omegle, for talking to people with common interests, but these should be monitored by an adult. The Duolingo app is highly recommended, and it’s free. I think I’ll try it for Japanese. There are online forums featuring the country or language. Google translator can help your child expand his/her language skills.
Find a restaurant where waiters speak the language. Your child can order for the family. Even without the language experience, food is a great motivator! Every culture has some recipes that will tempt your children. You can buy or prepare the meals together. Encourage your children to use the language while you’re preparing and enjoying the food.
Since languages are about life, they can complement almost all career choices: hospitality; law; health; sports; music, art. Scientists increasingly collaborate with counterparts in other countries. There are many job opportunities for bilinguals. Lead with Languages.com lists job opportunities for people who have language skills.
Certificate of Biliteracy
This certificate is awarded at high school graduation. The seal appears on the diploma. 26 states currently award the seal, and more are considering adopting it. The seal is awarded for students who can pass a proficiency exam in English and another language. This seal will be valuable for college and job applications.
About the Author
Judy has taught languages on Long Island and is an active member of the Public Advocacy Committee of the New York State Association of Foreign Langu
age Teachers. She lives on Long Island with her husband. Has two daughters and a granddaughter. Her missions is have let every child to have the opportunity to learn a world language at an early age; and she wants parents, everyone to have fun with a language and appreciate the beauty of the cultures of our world. Judy is the author of ¡HOLA! Let’s Learn Spanish and her newest book, Bonjour! Let’s Learn French will be published in October
“Language study promotes tolerance for diversity.”
¡HOLA! Let’s Learn Spanish
NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winner Winter 2017
Honorable Mention Educational Purple Dragonfly Book Award 2017
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Lead with languages