Home > School and Learning > Your Child's School > Alternative Education > How to Bolster Budding Language Skills
|

How to Bolster Budding Language Skills

To prepare for the activities below, find and use examples from your selected books, cassettes, videos, CDs and Internet resources.

  • Listen to a song sung in another language. The cadence and rhythm of music are echoed in language, and native singers melodiously model proper pronunciation. Play a song several times as she helps you make lunch or feed the dog. After several days you will probably be singing the chorus together. Find an excellent selection of Arabic songs in the music CD entitled, Cairo to Casablanca: An Arabic Musical Odyssey, published by Putumayo World Music in 1998.

  • Count aloud the proper amount of string beans for dinner, in Swahili. The Swahili numbers and pronunciations from zero to ten are sifuri (see-foo-ree), moja (mo-jah), mbili (m-bee-lee), tatu (tah-too), nne (nay), tano (tah-no), sita (see-tah), saba (sah-bah), nane (nah-nay), tisa (tee-sah), and kumi (koo-mee). When she's comfortable, she might join you in counting how many mateless socks there are in the laundry basket.

  • Play pick-up-sticks in Spanish. This game not only introduces a foreign language but helps Claudia strengthen fine motor coordination for handwriting, using scissors, and pinching her little brother. As she jiggles a stick or retrieves it successfully, say the color aloud, in Spanish. Some Spanish color names and pronunciations are red: rojo (ro-ho); blue: azul (ah-sool); green: verde (vair-day); white: blanco (blahn-koh); black: negro (neg-roh); yellow: amarillo (ah-ma-ree-yo); orange: naranja (na-ran-ha); purple: morado (moh-ra-doh); and pink: rosado (ro-sah-dough).

  • To aid her memory of new vocabulary words, get her physically involved in the new language. Point to the pizza in front of her and say, "Pizza," and then point to her mouth and make chewing motions and say, "Mangia! " As she chews on a big, gooey piece, say "mangia pizza!" meaning "You eat pizza!" in Italian. At the grocery store, put an apple in her hands and say in Italian, "Mela" (maylah). Then, print a label that says, "I sit" in Italian: siedo (see-yay-dough). Holding the "siedo" sign against your chest, sit in a chair and slowly say, "Siedo in la sedia." Make a label that says, "I jump" in Italian: salto(saal-toe). Then jump up and down. Make one for run, catch, and pinch, and do the actions as you say the words. Getting her body involved increases retention by helping her associate the muscle movements with the words.

  • Use a recent close-up photo of her or a family member to show Claudia the parts of her face in a foreign language. In Italian, some facial features are eye: occhio (okk-yo); nose: nasso (nah-so); mouth: bocca (boh-ka); and chin: mento (men-toe).

  • Eat lunch in a Japanese restaurant and order some foods in Japanese. Be sure to let your server in on your language lesson. Many are only too happy to become teachers, too. Many common food words were adapted from English. Soup: supu; chop: choppu; sauce: sosa; salad: sarada; lemon: remon; and dessert; dezato.

  • Shop at a Chinese grocery store. The sights, conversation, and colorful letters on the signage will give Claudia a sensory introduction to a delicious part of Chinese culture: the food. Discover new vegetables together like a long, brown root we call burdock but the Chinese call "gobo (go-bo)." A trip down the dessert aisle will show her that Chinese kids love sweets, too, especially fat steamed buns called "mántóu (man toh)."

  • If possible, take Claudia on a trip to a non-English-speaking country. Let her see that another language isn't a foreign thing at all, merely the unique sounds people use to communicate to each other their feelings, needs, and desires. Teach her a few words she can use to greet hotel or restaurant staff.



|

From Teacher Says by Evelyn Porreca Vuko. Copyright © 2004. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, visit amazon.com or click on the book cover.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.

GO

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!