Are you searching for bilingual activities for your children? Check out the activities my daughters and I created and would like to share with your family.
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Bilingual Activities For Children
I made it my goal, in the past years, to raise my children bilingual (English, German). My husband speaks to them in English, while I raise them in German.
However, at the beginning of our journey, I noticed that a lot of the activities out there where not geared towards children who spoke multiple languages. That caused a lot of frustration on my end. I didn’t know what to do with them or what to talk about… What is important?? I just had no clue.
Research on bilingual activities
Therefore, I started to research how to create bilingual activities with a focus on language.
Here is what I found out:
- Children learn best in a fun environment
- Keeping it entertaining and engaging is the key
- Being consistent is essential
- Create a positive environment
- Don’t punish for failure
Let’s look at these findings:
1. Children learn best in a fun environment
I mean who doesn’t? Everybody is more willing to learn in a fun environment.
When my daughters and I work on a bilingual activity we turn on some background music (in German, Amazon Prime Music or YouTube). I put out snacks and water and make sure we have a clean workspace. Nobody likes to work surrounded by a mess.
Also, getting them excited about these bilingual activities is how I start. “Hi, girls lets do a project it’s going to be fun. Would you like to help set it up?” While we set up we discuss the activity.
2. Keeping it entertaining and engaging is the key
Keep up the fun! Don’t get discouraged if the kids create a mess while setting up. Be prepared they are kids after all. I usually do my activities in the kitchen because it’s tiled. That makes for an easy clean-up if they do spill things. Again be prepared! The more you are prepared the more fun it will be.
Don’t discourage them from helping and being creative on their own because you are afraid of a mess. You want them to engage as much as possible. That is how they learn.
Don’t forget to talk to them and ask lots of questions. That’s what bilingual activities are all about. Talking, talking, talking. You want to work their little brains. 😉 I always include “things to talk about” to help you come up with lots of ideas (new words to learn).
3. Be consistent is essential
I love schedules. It helps me to stay organized.
For instance, when my toddler takes her nap (around noon) I do messy and more challenging activities with my preschooler. When my toddler is awake I do activities they both can engage in (in the afternoon). That leaves the morning for playdates, trip, and other activities. I mean I got to go grocery shopping at one point, right. 😉
Having a schedule helps me to stay on track. Some days, I do easy activities because I’m tired or I need to get other things done. Other days, I go all out and do fun and time-consuming activities. Do what your schedule and mood allow!
Furthermore, don’t forget to stay consistent with the languages you are using! You don’t want to mix them. If you always do an activity in Spanish continue that. Provide an activity in English to your significant other. So, your child gets exposed to both languages without you mixing them.
4. Create a positive environment
Also, my oldest understands everything I say to her in German, but she is more likely to respond in English. She knows sentences and words in German and uses them regularly. However, she still prefers to respond in English at times. And that is okay! We are working on it.
What I don’t want to do is creating a negative environment. “Please don’t respond in English” or “German please!” I don’t want to discourage her. Instead, I say (when she tells me the color is blue) “ja es ist Blau.” Now, I agreed with her because she is right and I told her the answer in German. Positivity is everything. Over time she will say “es ist blau.” Because she heard me say it enough to her during those activities.
5. Don’t punish for failure
Your kids will mix up languages at times or even refuse to speak one language over another. That is okay. Remember to stay positive. If it’s a challenging day where your kids don’t want to participate just go ahead and do something else instead. You could go for a walk or read a book instead. Sometimes even kids don’t feel like “playing” (to them, it’s all playing).
Don’t punish them for not participating or using the “wrong” language. They will remember the negativity and they will be less likely to have fun with future activities or even participate in them.
Use these activities to teach your children the languages you want to teach them. But more importantly, have fun with them. Engage in a fun family activity!
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the worksheets I created! 🙂