FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - LANGUAGE LEARNING
Most children older than 2 understand that a word may have different meanings. According to the Linguistic Society of America, children do not get confused when they hear two languages spoken around them. They are sensitive to the different ways people speak and even when they hear one language they are aware of differences between the way men and women talk or between a child and an adult. It is normal for children in bilingual homes to mix their languages so they start a sentence in one language and finish in another.
As often as you can. Repetition is key to be able to really learn and absorb a language. We follow the engaged repetition methodology which supports natural language acquisition through fun repetition of words. Some craft activities in My Language Box are designed for just a one-off session with your child but it is recommended that you go back to the finished product and talk over what you have just done in the second language. Additionally, try to use the new vocabulary in everyday situations.
Fluency will depend on how often the language is used. The Language Box is one of several different resources which can help your child become fluent. Fluency is achieved through frequent exposure and practice. If you are a monolingual family, try supplementing the Language Box with other forms of learning such as enlisting a family member or babysitter who speaks the second language to look after your children, watch videos or use learning apps (I limit this to less than 30 mins a day of screen time) or join a multilingual playgroup where they can hear the other language being spoken.
Some primary and secondary schools offer a second language in their curriculum when your child starts school. You can wait until your child is older but the best time for them to learn a second language is at the same time they learn their first. Your child’s school might not offer the language you are interested in and the mind’s ability to grasp foreign grammar drops off around age 10.
Absolutely. Every Language Box comes with a downloadable audio for parents, carers and children. After each new word there are some sentences to incorporate those words in every day scenarios. There is also an instruction guide with the words learnt both in English and the second language. Playing and listening together is an opportunity for the parent or carer to learn the language as well. I have substantially increased my basic language skills just by playing with, reading to and listening to the language with my child. My Language Box is especially designed for monolingual families or families where the second language is not their native language so you can communicate with your child and encourage learning even when they start learning that second language at school.
The whole family (including extended and close friends if they are interested). Your child will learn a lot faster if the whole family uses the words they have learnt in normal everyday conversation. Note from Sue Lynn: Before I created My Language Box, I would do this the long way and write down the new words we have learnt in a notebook as well as put labels in my child’s storybooks so I can read to them in both English and the second language. At first I kept having to search for the correct pronunciation of the words but after lots of repetition (toddlers love playing with the same toys and reading the same books), I did not need to refer to the audio at all and just used it on a daily basis with my child.
Languages with latin roots are easier to learn how to read and write compared to languages with characters such as Chinese, Korean and Japanese. Children should start learning how to do this at the same time they normally learn how to read at school – by 6 or 7 years of age. According to Dr. Christopher Green in the book Toddler Taming, the human brain is not sufficiently mature to handle the computation required to read properly (look at a word, sound out its letters, apply rules, come up with right pronunciation) until the development age of 6. Some children learn to recognise patterns at 4 or 5 years so the older child may start to recognise the characters that are available in the My Language instruction guide.
The Language Box was created to inspire special moments within families but there is no reason why you cannot get a playgroup to go through the activities together. This way the child associates the second language with acceptance as sometimes they can be embarrassed speaking what they think is the “weaker” language that no one understands.
Grammatical exercises geared for adults can be boring for young children. According to the Raising Children website, your child will start off learning lots of nouns. They then pick up easy verbs and adjectives through listening and absorbing. The learning guides are similarly designed so that your child can pick up the trends for an intuitive understanding of grammar
My Language Box uses the engaged repetition methodology in its instruction guide. We believe that children needs to be present and engaged to what they are learning to help them be effective learners and that repetition is important in language learning. According to the Montessori academy repetition helps to strengthen the brain's neural processes for learning and teaches children to retain knowledge. Through repetition, children develop the confidence to progress and it teaches them to internalise concepts.
Bilinguals demonstrate superior reading, analytical and writing skills. Learning a second language actually improves their English language development due to their cognitive flexibility.
Yes! Native speakers edit and translate all our material. There are many versions of Mandarin Chinese around the world but our collaborators are originally from China. Our Spanish collaborators are originally from South America.
The audio is designed in small chunks so that you and your child can go to a specific section when you're doing an activity. Some words or sentences can be harder to remember and you may need to play it a few times to learn effectively. You have the option of listening to a full section or a word.