HOW TO CREATE A BILINGUAL ACTION PLAN
Creating a Bilingual Action Plan
Last year I spent a relaxing week in Bali with my husband. We were so excited to go and take some time off and decided during the week to explore Seminyak so we’d hired a car and were planning to drive to the beach as it was only a short distance from our hotel. It seemed simple enough. There was only one small flaw in our perfect plan. After driving what seemed to be in circles for over 30 minutes we realised that we really didn't know HOW to get there. We needed a map. As we hilariously learnt (and really should have already known), reaching your destination is always a million times harder when you don’t know where you’re going.
The same applies to teaching your child a second language! You already have a goal, for your child to fluently speak another language. This is a really great start. However one of the most important things you need is a plan to help you get there.
Starting on a language learning journey can often seem daunting, especially when you don’t speak the second language yourself but it doesn’t need to be. With just a few simple steps, you’ll have all the tools you need to create an environment that fosters bilingualism and helps your child fall in love with learning another language.
YOUR BILINGUAL ACTION PLAN
1. Maximise your child’s exposure to their second language at home:
It goes without saying that the more exposure a child has to a language, the more chance they will pick it up with greater ease. What happens however if you DON'T speak the language? Well, believe it or not, you still have the ability to introduce the foundations of a language at home and there are many ways to do it.
Thanks to the world wide web, these days there are a huge number of resources specifically focused on teaching little kids a language. Here are
- Take advantage of technology (online language games, Wikipedia, and video games). - These are not only portable but online games and short language videos (like inside our membership) are great tools to teach and reinforce vocabulary).
- Watch movies and listen to movies in your second language. Make sure you check out Netflix's fantastic range of kids movies in your target language.
- Don’t neglect reading. Books are an important resource for teaching vocabulary and sentence structure. Don't worry if your pronunciation isn't perfect, what's most important is that you're doing it.
2. Make the most of the people around you
- Check out the resources in your local library - they often have books and video series and if you're lucky a local language playgroup for your little one
- If your extended family speak your target language, request that they speak to your child only in their native tongue.
- Hire a babysitter that speaks the language you’re teaching - It also incentivises you to go out and have fun, knowing that your little one is also moving forward in their language activities.
3. Find external support
- Research local language groups that meet on the weekend. Your local language playgroup is a fantastic way for your child to not only meet other kids who speak the language but it also connects you with families who share the same core value. They may lead to great friendships as your child grows too.
- Invest in a tutor if your child learns best in one-on-one contexts. This is helpful as your child grows, however, make sure that when your child is young, they spend most of their language learning engaging in play. Kids learn best when they're having fun so if you can play the long game and keep the lessons engaging, you'll raise kids who will love the language over a lifetime.
- Encourage them to learn the language at school if this is an option.
4. Customise your bilingual action plan
There's a lot to be said for taking the time to sit down and write out a plan that's going to work for your family.
I would encourage you to look at a number of the different activities that we've listed about and find ways to engage with them with your child across the space of the week. We've even created a cute little printable that you can write on and put on your fridge as a reminder of all that's ahead.
The first printable is for you to stop and write down some of the tasks/activities that you think would be easily actionable and accessible for your child. Once you've decided on WHAT you want to start with, the next step is to schedule it. Grab your printable 'Bilingual Action Plan' and fill in the blank spaces with manageable tasks across your week.