At a young age, a child’s mind is a blank slate and encouraging learning can help he/she soak up a great deal of knowledge. One way to encourage a love of learning is through language acquisition. In fact, the earlier you introduce your child to a foreign language the better; it seems that before the age of 10 is ideal, or even before the age of 5, if possible.
One of the best places to encourage learning of a second language is in schools. According to the Summer Institute of Linguistics, more than two-thirds of the world’s children are bilingual; in America, however, only 17% of the total population speaks a second language in addition to English. What’s more, many countries mandate the introduction of foreign language in schools by age eight, while students in the United States often wait until junior or senior high school for their first exposure to a foreign language curriculum, thus only having 4 years of study versus 10 or 12 years when introduced earlier.
Creating a second language curriculum for kids, such as a Spanish curriculum for kids is a great way for schools to help students many skills related to language acquisition and to foster a love of learning. If you want to create a Spanish curriculum for kids to promote learning a second language, here are a few tips:
- Make it fun: Whether you create a Spanish curriculum for kids, a French curriculum for kids or a German curriculum for kids, find ways to make it fun. Encourage children to read books, take field trips; listen to music; For their first 8 years, children are naturally acquiring language skills. They learn primarily through imitation, repetition, songs and games. If a child has fun while learning, it’s going to make them excited about learning and will make language acquisition easier.
- Teach through repetition: Between ages 8 and 12, your child will lose the ability to hear and reproduce new sounds as they did when they were younger, making foreign language acquisition not impossible, but more difficult. Therefore, it’s important to encourage learning their repetition. If you have an activity that you like to do in your classroom, do it in Spanish or French or German to emphasize learning more words in the second language.
- Demonstrate: Another way to have an effective Spanish curriculum for kids, is to encourage learning through demonstration. Pairing vocabulary words with nonverbal communication can help children understand language whether you use a facial expression or a gesture. This helps children comprehend and remember language terms.
- Keep it casual: However you want to go about implementing your Spanish curriculum for kids, know that the best way for them to understand Spanish or any second language their trying to learn is to hear it spoken on a regular basis. In addition to traditional classroom aids such as Spanish story books and work books, use television shows, movies, music, restaurants and anything else you can think of to promote and encourage language acquisition.
It’s been established that learning a second language can have benefits for children, but it can also have many benefits for older people as well, including:
- Advancing your career: It’s been proven that bilingual employees earn, on average, 20 percent more per hour than monolingual employees. Learning a second language can give you a competitive advantage and sets you apart. No matter what field you work in, the need for bilingual speakers is increasing, especially with companies expanding into overseas markets.
- Keeping your brain active: Aside from picking up a second language, people who take time to learn a second language have improved memory, critical thinking skills and problem-solving. Taking time to become bilingual and multilingual also helps stave off mental aging and decline.
Whether your child is in a preschool Spanish or elementary Spanish curriculum, take advantage of the critical time in early development when acquiring language skills comes naturally and easily. A child’s capacity to pronounce unfamiliar, foreign sounds and to absorb new grammar rules is highly enhanced prior to age six. Take time to foster a love of learning and a positive learning environment by pairing basic language acquisition techniques with nonverbal demonstrations and non-traditional aids such as books, restaurants and television.