Encouraging language learning can be a little challenging, sometimes frustrating and other times extremely rewarding. But how do we keep it interesting and captivating for our children?
Whether you are a bilingual family or just a family looking to introduce a foreign language into your home or homeschooling routines you need to decide how you are going to introduce the language so that your child is enthusiastic.
Harnessing your child’s hobbies as a tool for language learning can make the process more enjoyable and effective. From personal experience as a bilingual family that went from OPOL (One Parent One Language) to a Time and Place method where we used outdoor time and our pony activities for our language learning times, I can guarantee you that your child will be more motivated to learn in an environment that already creates for them motivation and curiosity rather than just sitting in a classroom environment and hoping for the best!! (If you are interested in why we changed our method take a look at this blog post ‘Our Bilingual Journey So Far´.)
Here are five creative ways to incorporate your child’s interests into their language learning journey.
Crafting Language-Infused Projects
Whether it’s designing a scrapbook, building a model , or creating DIY jewelry, provide instructions and engage in conversations related to the hobby in the new language. This experience will enhance vocabulary retention and language comprehension.
Our example would be, let’s build a scrapbook of our riding adventures, or let’s make a model of a pony and try and name all its parts in both languages.
Storytelling Through Role-Playing
Imaginative storytelling and role-playing. Whether it’s pretending to be characters from a favourite film, enacting scenes from a favourite book, or improvising dialogues related to their hobby, language learning can be seamlessly woven into these engaging activities.
Our example is talking about a Bibi and Tina film or about a horse video we have seen on Youtube or even acting out a competition we are going to or have been to.
Multilingual Resources and Materials
Seek out multilingual resources related to your child’s hobbies, such as bilingual books, language-learning apps, or educational videos all are fabulous resources However you could also create your own. By exposing your child to diverse language content within the context of their hobbies, you can cultivate a natural and sustained engagement with the target language.
I have an activity sheet available in my shop in English, German and French showing 10 easy parts of a horse. If you have a horse crazy child like me take a look here
Gamifying Language Learning
Transform language learning into a game that aligns with your child’s hobby. Whether it’s creating a language-themed scavenger hunt, designing language-based challenges related to their interest, or using language apps, infusing fun and playfulness can motivate and sustain their language learning journey.
We would use a stable scavenger hunt for various mucking out items or parts of a grooming kit. Maybe finding specific foods from the feed-room. You can be as creative as you like this is just our crazy-horse-world!
Cultivating Cultural Awareness
Explore the cultural dimensions of your child’s hobby through the lens of language. Whether it’s learning about the historical origins of a particular hobby, or discovering traditional games and/or pastimes from different cultures, integrating language with cultural exploration can enrich your child’s language learning experience.
For us this would mean looking at horses and when they were domesticated. Looking at wild horses today and their living environments etc.
In conclusion, leveraging your child’s hobbies for language learning can foster a deeper connection with the target language. By integrating their interests with language learning opportunities, you can nurture a love for languages that extends beyond the confines of traditional learning environments. Embrace the creativity and versatility afforded by your child’s hobbies to create a dynamic language learning journey that captivates their imagination and enriches their language capabilities.