ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

5 Steps to Make Sure Your Child Is Getting the Most Out of Their Language Classes

Updated on January 9, 2013
Language is not just about learning vocab.
Language is not just about learning vocab. | Source

What They Learn In Class Is Not Enough

Do you remember your language learning days at school? Hot afternoons staring at the teacher while reciting paradigms that didn’t make much sense? Or in more recent times, being taught a set sentence then being asked to say it to your partner, who probably was just as bored as you were and would just mumble back an answer before you turned to more interesting gossip?

Surprisingly, this does not lead students to become proficient at languages.

Having had my fair share of experience learning and teaching languages, here are some steps you can takeat home to prepare your child and make sure they are getting the most out of their language learning.

Step 1:

The first step which is important in introducing a child to a language (and not used really at all in schools) is to let them listen to it. A lot. Before anything else. And let them just be silent. Don’t expect your child to be reproducing the target language after a week, or even a month.

So, if you know they are going to be starting a new language at school, order some cartoons off the internet in that language and sit down together to watch them for an hour a day during the holidays. There are also hundreds of great podcasts they can listen to while on their way to school or while doing chores. Even as they begin to start speaking, let them keep listening more than they do anything else.

Step 2:

Second, once they are starting to speak you need to encourage them to use the language all the time, in lots of different situations. For example, put stickers up around the house so they can learn everyday life vocabulary. And if you are feeling really mean (or think they are doing pretty well) you can even change over their computer settings so the computer is in the target language. They will quickly learn what words mean when they need to navigate their way to YouTube.

Step 3:

Third, they need to learn not to be afraid to reproduce and practice. Two great ways to do this is first to connect them with a pen pal from a school in that country learning English. Encourage them to use tools like Google translate to help them as write emails as they develop. Second, take them along to community meetings for that language group. Even if you can only take them to the local Chinese takeaway where the waitstaff are happy to practice simple conversations on less busy nights. Just make sure they are not criticized for mistakes but encouraged to keep trying.

Step 4:

Fourth, do not underestimate rote learning. As they are not going to be hearing the target language for 8 hours a day, they generally won’t get the exposure to the repetition of words necessary for memory formation. Therefore, a regular amount of time needs to be dedicated to memorisation. Having said that, the old formula of write out a vocab list, cover it and write it again isn’t necessary the best way to go.

Two improvements you can easily make to this system is first learn phrases not individual words (I can still remember how to say ‘the general looses the horse’ in Ancient Greek, which admittedly is not the most useful phrase, but it is Ancient Greek after all). Second, instead of just trying to memorise the words or phrases by staring at them, work with your child to make up silly images to associate with the word with English. Encourage them to play with the sentence and feel totally comfortable adjusting it to their needs.

Step 5:

Finally, you need to demonstrate to your child that learning this language is important and something fun. If you practice with them, asking them questions and getting them to reply, not being afraid yourself to try out new sentences and ask them if they think it is correct, they will grow a lot more confident. Take the time to read together and help them with their homework. Without your support, they will be less likely to want to learn the language in the first place. And just think what a great opportunity it is for you to learn something new!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


      These are all excellent useful ways to make sure your child or anyone gets the most out of their language learning. I especially like step number 4: memorization or rote learning. When I started to learn Chinese Mandarin, we were expected to memorize and recite short dialogues for every class. I remember that our book had cartoons associated with the dialogues. Voted up as useful and sharing with followers.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)