Learning a second language at home
Stamford encourages all students to be global citizens. Exposure to other languages and cultures will benefit children in all areas of their life not only their education but in work and travel.
Learning a second language at home is a challenge for both students and their parents. Our Head of Modern Languages, Ms. Qian Wang shared these expert tips on supporting your child’s language learning at home.
Activities to enhance second language learning with your children at home:
- When possible, arrange a playdate or a video call with a buddy who speaks your child’s second language. Encourage them to use the language in their play activities.
- The recording function on your smart devices is a very helpful and efficient method for speaking practice. If your child feels shy to speak to a native speaker face to face, encourage them to record themselves first. They can practice a short dialogue and compare their pronunciation with original soundtracks. They can secretly practice as many times as they want without getting embarrassed! Many apps embed this function as well.
- Watch cartoons or movies. Use the visual clues to decode the meaning and look up words that your child doesn’t understand. You can even turn off the sound and make up your own dialogue to match what’s happening on screen.
- Listen to music. You can choose any type of music, from pop, to love songs and traditional children’s music, as long as it has lyrics. A catchy tune can help you to memorize the language and practice pronunciation.
- Foster an appreciation of the culture, not just the language. As a family, cook a meal, visit a restaurant, celebrate a cultural event, explore some traditional arts and crafts or even dances! You can discuss the vocabulary that is an extension of the activity.
- Listen to your child read books aloud - always choose books that are at an appropriate level for your child, to keep up their confidence - not too easy, and just a little challenging.
Applications and websites to support Mandarin language learners:
- 跟我学写汉字 (Learn to Write Chinese Characters) - practice and check your Chinese Characters, and read Chinese Stories for levels.
- Joyreaders - Bilingual Picture Books for children.
- Train Chinese/Pleco Chinese - Word Dictionaries with example sentences and recorded audio pronunciation.
- Level Chinese - Subscription-based reading books for students at all levels.
- Arch Chinese - Designed specifically for English speakers with little or no experience of Mandarin Chinese, this site allows students to practice stroke-order and pronunciation.
If you are familiar with the language your child is learning, and are a little tech-savvy, why not use Quizlet to help with revision by creating flashcards and games?
Language learning is an important part of life at Stamford and an essential component of the core curriculum. From age five, students receive daily modern language lessons - Spanish or Mandarin - that are personalized to each child’s proficiency level. Our optional Elementary Bilingual Program offers students the opportunity to access the class program in dual language, Mandarin and English, improving both aptitude and confidence. For more information, please visit our website or contact our Admissions Team.