I don’t write about it much on this blog, but in one of my pre-kid lives I taught French. I had lofty plans of raising bilingual French-English speaking children, but have, thus far, fallen short of that goal. Authentic experiences encourage learning, and I was struggling to create authentic French language experiences for my kids. I was exposed to French by living in France and going to French public schools, and it felt like everything tried living in the United States fell short. Add in speech and a few other developmental delays, and I set my raising bilingual children goal aside.
As it turns out, I was over thinking things. Emma has always been interested in French, in part because I did speak French a lot at home when she was a baby and toddler. Our trip to Montreal solidified her interest. Johnny and Lily play along, but they don’t share Emma’s passion. Then this summer, Johnny and Emma both went to one week of soccer camp, which they loved. Johnny was assigned to Team Brazil, and suddenly he wanted to learn Portuguese! I don’t speak any Portuguese. Thanks to the excellent and free duolingo app, Johnny has been busily learning Portuguese ever since. I don’t know that he will become fluent in Portuguese, but I believe that any exposure to other languages is a net positive for kids – speaking from experience. There are also quite a few similarities between Portuguese and French.
Contextualization has a huge impact on language learning – by making the experience, once again, more authentic. I have tried a few French resources for the kids, and so far this one (This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.) is our favorite. The kids enjoy learning vocabulary and then putting it to use by identifying the objects as they would be used in everyday life. Having a little color helps, too!
Authentic experiences help with all learning – not just language learning! That’s why it is important for kids to learn about careers that use the skills they learn in school, and for kids to experience hands-on learning through experimentation rather than simply learning through books and worksheets.
What authentic learning experiences has your family enjoyed recently?
2014 After School Party HOSTS
It’s time to link up your elementary school aged activities! By doing so you are giving the linky hosts permission to feature your post and to pin it to our After School Activities board on Pinterest. Book lists caught my eye last week – this list of books about the first day of school from Fantastic Fun and Learning and this list of books children’s authors liked when they were kids from Growing Book by Book. I also want to read these books about covered wagons from Line Upon Line Learning.