While it can be a bit more challenging to find that class, it is possible and then you kill two birds with one stone! Your child gets to partake in a fun activity while learning a second language at the same time! Kinesthetic learning (or tactile learning) is an educational style where children do a physical activity while learning, rather than simply listening to a teacher in a lecture-style format. Many children, especially wiggly ones, will learn much better with this active learning style than they would sitting at a desk learning a second language.
How can you go about finding classes offered in your second language choice?
Here are some ideas:
Tip 1: Call around to different sports classes to see if a slot can be offered in your second language choice. Perhaps you can find a school that has just opened up and they are willing to offer you a class in French, Spanish, etc. if you agree to get two or three of your friends to join in!
Tip 2: Check out areas in your neighborhood that might offer classes in a particular language. Perhaps there is a town nearby that has a large Hispanic population — you will probably be able to find a great sports class offered in Spanish there!
Tip 3: Post a free ad on www.craigslist.org to find someone who is willing to teach a sport/skill/activity to your child (and perhaps to a group of your friends’ children) in that second language.
Tip 4: If you are enrolled in a school or program for second language learning, ask one of the teachers if she would be interested in coming over on the weekend or after school to teach your child a sport or a hobby that she enjoys. For example, perhaps one of the teachers in your child’s school loves tennis. Ask that teacher to instruct your child in the sport while immersing him in the vocabulary for your second language. This teacher does not have to be a pro to teach your child tennis — the idea is that your child enjoys a new activity in an immersive language experience!
Tip 5: If you have a friend who speaks a second language fluently, ask her if she might offer a mini “class” for your child and hers in that second language. Perhaps your friend loves to sew, play golf or do art projects — what a great way for your child to engage in a new activity and learn vocabulary at the same time. Perhaps you can offer to pay for the materials in exchange for the lesson?
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We have discovered lots of great classes offered in Mandarin — sometimes you just have to ask.
Have fun with these classes! You don’t have to be enrolled in the class forever — especially if your child’s interest has declined in the activity. We typically do our classes for about 6 months to one year and then we move onto a new activity in Mandarin. This way my children learn the vocabulary for each hobby or sport in Mandarin well, and then they move on to something else. Many times, I throw them in an activity if I happen to meet someone who speaks the language who has a passion for a certain sport or other times, I drive by a class that has Chinese writing on the windows and then I “inquire within!”
We found this art program by chance! I had made a wrong turn and all of the sudden found myself parked in front of this art studio called “Wang’s Art Class” but the rest of the writing in the windows and the signs were in Chinese! I popped in and found a whole class of Mandarin speaking students learning Chinese! I enrolled my son on the spot! My son had been asking for art lessons ever since the first day of kindergarten when he sat next to his best friend who took art after school. Perfect! Win win!
However, it was actually tough for me to get the teacher to teach to him in Mandarin even though he spoke to the rest of the kids in Chinese. I kept on having to remind him to speak to my son in Chinese and he kept on saying that when he saw the blonde hair, he would automatically talk in English! I ended up staying for the first 10 minutes of every class just to make sure that the introductory lesson was in Mandarin and to gently remind the teacher to speak with him only in Chinese. By the end of our year, Lucas had learned lots of new art vocabulary in Mandarin and got confidence in drawing through the class! Now that my son is in 1st grade, we have since moved onto new activities, but it was a wonderful introduction to art for all of Kindergarten.
The following shows a short video of my son at his Mandarin art class.