Get Started

Simply add a few of these habits to your family routine and you will be shocked at how painless it is to make learning a second language a natural part of your children’s lives!

Trust me, if you do a few of these tips every day over an extended period of time your child CAN be fluent in a second language, even if you don’t speak the language yourself.

Let The Games Begin
Tune into TV
Music to Their Ears
Get Help!
Play & Learn
School of Thought
A Class Act
Learn in a Flash
A Game Plan
Out and About
Hop around on our online hopscotch board to explore our ideas about how to incorporate a second language into your child’s life!

Let The Games Begin

There are a ton of wonderful and inexpensive (sometimes free!) apps to help supplement your child’s language learning out there. Check out our list of recommended iPhone/ipad/itouch apps that The Language Playground™ has personally reviewed and approved! Click on the flag of the language of your choice for a hand-picked list of great apps for your kiddos!

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Tune into TV

Remember that scene from the cheesy 80s movie Splash where the main character, the mermaid Madison, learns how to speak English in one day from watch TV? Well… the same holds true for your kiddo! Mickey Mouse, Dora and Kung fu Panda are just as amusing in a second language as they are in your native language! Check out our selection of DVDs below that The Language Playground™ has personally reviewed and approved! The Language Playground™ has developed a method for introducing content and language in a way that solidifies meaning behind the images that they see on the screen. Here is our process: 1. Reading in your native language: Read a book in your native language that is based on the film that you are about to show your children 2. Watching in your native language: Have your children watch the show in your native language 3. Reading in a Second Language: Have your children listen to the book being told in a second language 4. Watching in the Second Language: Have your child watch the show in your second language choice with the book on his lap so that he can follow along. Only allow your children to watch the movie in your second language choice going forward. Only allow your children to watch the movie in your second language choice going forward. 5. Testing: A great way to test your child’s knowledge of the program is to put on the subtitles (if you don’t speak the language yourself) and see if he knows what is being said in the film.

  • If your child can’t yet read: put on the subtitles and ask him to tell you what is said in each scene. You can pause it screen by screen to see if your child understood the dialogue. Don’t do this for the whole film as your child will get frustrated and won’t want to “play this game” but if you do it sporadically throughout the show, it can be fun for both of you!
  • If your child can read: put on the subtitles and make a little card that enables you to block out the words at the bottom of the screen. Position yourself next to the TV so that you can see the subtitles but your child cannot. Again, don’t do this for the whole film, but if you do it sporadically throughout the show, your child may enjoy this challenge!

Check out the blog posting here for a video demonstrating our process: How We Use TV to Teach a Second Language Click on the flag of the language of your choice for a hand-picked list of great DVDs for your kiddos!

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Music to Their Ears

Immerse your child with a second language through music! It is easy and cheap to throw on some music while you are eating with your children, playing with them or driving to soccer practice! Music can be the backdrop to your lives and your little ones will pick up some words and phrases in a second language without even realizing it! Other Ideas: 1. Why not teach your children a second language while they sleep? As part of a nighttime routine, put on a CD with music of your second language choice and have your children listen to the words while they fall into dreamland! Perhaps they will even dream in that second language throughout the night and get even more exposure! Check out our selection of below CDs that The Language Playground has personally reviewed and approved! 2. Try out language learning CDs — you might be surprised at your child’s interest and patience in repeating phrases and vocabulary. Kids love repetition and mimicry — language learning CDs are a great way to capitalize on their attentiveness for these kinds of activities. Click on the flag of the language of your choice for a hand-picked list of great music for your kiddos!

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Get Help!

Do you currently hire a babysitter? If so, why not hire someone who can speak with your children in your second language choice? If you are going out to dinner for a night on the town, why not have someone play with your child in that second language while you are out? Are you looking for a Mommy’s helper? A helper who speaks a second language helps not only mom get some time to run errands but also can act as a language tutor for your child! How can you find a helper who speaks your second language choice?

  • Post an ad online: Craigslist wonderful, free resource is a great way to find someone who speaks your second language choice. Make sure that you are very specific in the title of your request. For example, “Seeking Mandarin-speaking Babysitter for my two children”. Post it under gigs/ domestic or under jobs/education.
  • Spare room: If you have a spare room and are open to this idea, offer housing in exchange for babysitting help. Again, you can post this request in craigslist.com under housing/shared and be very specific about what you are looking for in the title of your post.
  • AuPair: Go through an Au Pair Agency and get connected to an energetic and enthusiastic person who speaks your second language choice. So many young people would love the opportunity to work abroad and if you have a little extra space in your house, you can get help at a fraction of the price you would pay normally. If things don’t work out with your new helper, most agencies will let you interview and find someone new.
  • Popular Spots: Create a little flyer with tags with your phone number/email address and post it at places where people who speak that second language tend to frequent. For example, if you are looking for a Mandarin helper, go to a Chinese grocery store and post your flyer there.
  • Churches: Go to a church that caters to people who speak the second language that interests you and ask them if you can put up a flyer on their community boards. You can search online at churches in your area to see if they offer a service in that second language. For example, maybe a church near you offers a 10 am service in Spanish. That would be a great spot for you to post a request for a Spanish helper.
  • In Person: While it can be a little bit disconcerting, go to a place where you know people who speak that language will be and hand out little flyers about your offering. Attend a church service in that second language and hand out your flyer to everyone leaving the church. Hand out flyers one morning outside of a busy grocery store that caters to people who speak your second language choice on a Sunday morning. Stop by a shop where a lot of the employees who work there speak that second language and give a few of the people who work there a bundle of flyers to hand out to their friends.
  • Colleges: Many colleges have offices that are devoted to students from foreign countries. Go to those offices and ask if you can put up a flyer as well as post on their electronic job boards for your babysitter position. A lot of students might also be looking for room shares and so if you have a spare room, approaching a nearby college might be a great idea for you to find a wonderful candidate.
  • Online Groups: Join some yahoo groups with a focus in your language of choice and post your question about refining a helper there. One of the parents there might be enrolling her child in kindergarten the following year and will no longer need her helper.

Check out our blog postings illustrating all of the different activities that we do with our babysitter:

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Play & Learn

What better way to learn a second language than through play? Set up playdates with the parents in your school who speak your chosen second language fluently. Ask the parent and the child to devote a set amount of time during each playdate to speak to your child in that language. Perhaps ask that parent if he/she can only speak in that language to your child throughout the playdate. Soon your child will naturally speak to that parent and the playmate in the foreign language without any prompting! TIP 1: Check out groups online with this fabulous free website www.meetup.com to see what clubs about language are in your neighborhood. The groups are free and totally volunteer-run! If you can’t find one, why not start your own? TIP 2: Post a free ad on www.craigslist.org to find parents with common interests. Perhaps there is a parent out there who would love to learn your native language. You can set up a mini-language exchange playdate! TIP 3: Explore yahoo groups to find parents in your area who are also interested in your chosen second language. Many of the groups are based on location. Offer up your house to host or set up a playdate at a local park so that you can meet these parents. If you can’t find a group, start your own!

School of Thought

Will your child go to preschool? Why not send your little one to an immersion school! Immersion schools, which can start as early as nursery school, are a wonderful way to give your child a head start on learning a second (or third) language. Children learn all the same subject matter taught in standard schools, but in a second language! Your child will still get all of the same elements that he would get at a “regular preschool” – social interaction, understanding of the rules, basic math skills and snacktime :), only now he is soaking in another language at the same time! WHERE TO FIND A SCHOOL IN YOUR AREA: TIP 1: yelp.com: This website is a great place to start your search and get reviews from parents like you! Just type in what you are looking for (i.e. Mandarin preschool) in the search bar and see what kind of schools are available. TIP 2: craigslist.com: This website is a wonderful site to search for home school programs in your area. We were surprised at just how many smaller programs were not advertised on yelp or found on the web, but were on craigslist! Many of these programs are less expensive as well since they are run out of people’s homes. TIP 3: Yahoo Groups: Join some yahoo groups with a focus in your language of choice and post your question about recommended schools there. There are tons of happy parents just waiting to speak about their immersion school choices. Tip 4: Recommended Websites: Check out our list of recommended websites for links to websites that will help you find a school in your area. Check out our videos and posts detailing our experiences with finding a good immersive preschool for our children and discover what kinds of activities they do while there!

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A Class Act

Will you enroll your child in activities like swimming lessons, kung fu or chess? Why not find that same class taught in your second language choice? 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.


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How can you go about finding classes offered in your second language choice?

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?

Check out the blog postings that we have on this topic here:

Learn in a Flash

While flashcards in general can be pretty boring, they are a great way to gauge your child’s vocabulary. Spice them up with some game ideas that we have tested on our own children. Read about them in our Blog under Flashcard Fun!

The BLINGuals flash cards are designed to look like a story book, with cameo appearances by a curious boy and girl. Check out their site at www.blinguals.com.

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A Game Plan

You probably have the tools to start second language exposure right in your own home! Shoots and Ladders can be turned into an excellent way to teach numbers in another language. Candyland? A wonderful game to explore color vocabulary in another language! Break open your game closet and see what games can be easily turned into second language learning opportunities! Check out some of the game ideas that we play with our children on our blog!

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Out and About

Your neighborhood is probably teeming with second language opportunities — you just need to find them! Some idea include: Tip 1: Find an authentic restaurant where many of the employees speak your second language choice. Ask them to speak with your child only in that language. Tip 2: Check out grocery stores that cater to a particular culture and shop there. Have your child ask the staff for particular food items. Tip 3: Find out about cultural activities going on where there will be a lot of visitors and vendors who speak your second language choice.

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