How Children Assimilate a Foreign Language
by Anna Sawa
It is believed that children can start learning a foreign language as early as possible even if they cannot speak their mother tongue. It is crucial to organise optimal conditions to learn the language naturally in the same way as the first language.
According to Jayne Moon (2005) teaching a foreign language is more effective if:
- children will be frequently exposed to the foreign language,
- optimal conditions will be provided to encourage natural needs of using the foreign language,
- communication will be the main goal.
Children should be exposed to the foreign language as often as possible. They forget things as quickly as they learn them. That is why, children need constant repetition and revision. The learning process will be more effective if we spread the learning span beyond English classes. Children can listen to songs, rhymes and stories and play the same toys and games as during English lessons in their free time in the kindergarten, at home or in the car. Encourage parents to watch with children English programmes for kids on TV or the Internet.
Play and games
Play is important part of children's learning and development. When children are strongly involved in playing, they learn unconsciously and their concentration span is much longer. Teacher's role is to create such conditions to introduce the foreign language in natural way - use the foreign language to name toys or set rules of the game. Singing songs and playing children remember more whole phrases in the foreign language for long term.
Telling or reading stories in the foreign language is invaluable in learning-teaching process. It is natural, interesting and entertaining way to exposure children to the target language. Read more about why tell stories to children.
Creating positive attitude to the foreign language and making learning interesting and enjoyable during English classes, teachers encourage children to communicate in English - at first with a teacher and then with their peers.
- Moon, J. 2005 Children Learning English. A Guidebook For English Language Teachers, Macmillan
- Szpotowicz, M., Szulc-Kurpska, M. 2011 Teaching English to Young Learners, Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN