Reinforce Your Child’s Language Learning
Notre Dame de Paris and Your Child
Have you heard of the Notre Dame de Paris, France? It is a gorgeous cathedral completed in the year 1260 under Bishop Maurice de Sully which displays elements of French Gothic architecture, including massive rose windows, sculptural decoration, and a funny term called ‘flying buttresses.’ (1) A buttress is simply “An architectural support that bears the load of roofs or vaulted ceilings.”(2) The windows and latticework would collapse under the weight of the roof if it weren’t for the flying buttresses.
Let’s compare your child’s language learning to a large building, like Notre Dame. The inside is where the beauty of learning happens, where new ideas bounce all around the stone walls and the child forms connections and meaning. It is crucial that this structure receives the support it needs in order to remain stable, last the course of time, and be a safe and functioning building. In this metaphor, we suggest that some of the main buttresses that help stabilize and reinforce the child’s language learning are: Encouragement, Opportunity, and Variety.
Buttress 1: Encouragement
Without this crucial support, the building will crumble, and your child will walk away from the language learning journey knowing ten words and not caring to use any of them. Perhaps adults can scrape up the motivation to keep going when the process gets repetitive and challenging, but children are still developing emotionally and have difficulty sticking with tasks. If mom and dad show excitement (even if they don’t always feel like it) with each new lesson or revelation, then the child will too. “Good job, son,” or “Great work, daughter,” are the words they are longing to hear and should hear often.
Buttress 2: Opportunity
If the famous real estate theme is, “Location, location, location,” then the language learning theme should be, “Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.” The more foreign language exposure that children can get in their everyday lives, the more supported they will be. We suggest that you take advantage of daily formal opportunities, like lessons at home, at school, or online and also informal opportunities like naming animals when you go to the zoo or singing songs in the car on the way to soccer practice. Seize the moments, big and small, to reinforce the new language in reading, hearing, and speaking.
Buttress 3: Variety
Not only will a greater number of opportunities expose your child to the language more often, but a vast variety within those opportunities will keep language learning fresh and fun. If your child is restless with their lesson one day, go out and draw chalk figures and label them. Is it time for a water balloon fight? Count the balloons using names of numbers in the desired language. Be creative and you may find yourself having just as much fun as your child. With storybooks, audiobooks, educational videos, board games, online games, activity/coloring books, toys, cartoons, the variety in language learning is nearly endless! Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more suggestions and resources.
Thank you for loving your child and taking the time and effort to support them in many areas of life, including language learning, and keep up the good work!