Helping a child learn a foreign language can open a new world of opportunities. Learning a new culture, gaining future job skills, teaching the brain to problem-solve in a new fashion are among the top reasons parents choose to have their child learn a foreign language. What's the best way to start a child on a path to learning a foreign language? I spoke with language tutor Melanie Hendrick, the owner of Language Complete in Rochester Hills, to find out some tips.
Oakland County Moms: What's the earliest age you recommend teaching a child a foreign language?
Melanie Hendrick, Owner of Language Complete: The earliest age according to research is 0-3 years old but I find that children can start repeating vocabulary orally by breaking down words phonetically around 16 months. Each child is ready to speak in their own time, however they all experience a "Silent Period" where they listen and take in what they hear for a bit before actually speaking aloud.
Oakland County Moms: What are the easiest foreign languages for kids to pick up and which foreign languages are the most difficult?
Melanie Hendrick, Owner of Language Complete: I would say that Spanish and Italian are easiest because they are both very similar and are pronounced pretty much the way they are spelled. Chinese and Arabic would be hardest because they are based on a totally different alphabet than Spanish and Italian which have the same alphabet as English with a few different sounding letters. Chinese however, is based on characters and there are about 5,000 common characters of which 3,500 are needed to read a newspaper. Also, Chinese characters and the Arabic alphabet are hard to write.
Oakland County Moms: How do approach teaching foreign languages to children? IE: How does your school take the approach? How long does it take etc.
Melanie Hendrick, Owner of Language Complete: Language Complete teaches young children through oral repetition, singing songs, making crafts related to Spanish cultural themes, oral directions given to the children in Spanish, some total language immersion, playing with toys, puppetry, showing regalia, dancing, cultural information, flannel boards, map location, game playing and oral dialoguing between classmates.
To obtain basic vocabulary and some speaking skills and cultural recognition skills, children should start in preschool if possible and continue through the 12th grade to be fluent. This means taking the language five days per week each school year and in later years, visiting the country (ies) of the native language that the child is learning.
ABOUT LANGUAGE COMPLETE
Language Complete in Rochester Hills specializes in teaching and translating Spanish, English, French, German and Italian languages. Language Complete also specializes in accent reduction. Language Complete offers individual and group tutoring services. Click their website for more info.