Did you know that bilingual kids do better on standardized tests? In fact, kids who speak two or more languages have been proven to have stronger cognitive skills, improved job prospects, and higher levels of self-control. Later in life, being bilingual can even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia by years. The benefits are clear, but how do you really make it happen? If you’re wondering how to make learning a language fun for teenagers, steal a few essential tips from the experts.
Here’s your guide on how to make learning a language fun for teenagers.
Teaching Kids a Second Language by Connecting with the Culture
Ditch the 20-year-old textbooks! The first step to getting kids engaged in language learning is to capture their interest. What does your teen normally read about online? Whether it’s sports, music, video games, or fashion, find materials in the target language.
YouTube is a perfect starting point for your search. Find short videos that are similar to things they’d watch in English. Start with English subtitles for beginners then advance to native subtitling. Show your kids that the language exists outside of textbooks.
Reward Language Learning
As every parent knows, bribing kids is always a powerful way to get them moving! Create a system of rewards for your teen. Promise the soon-to-be Spanish speaker that you’ll take him and his best friend out for tacos if he gets his homework done and is ready to order at a restaurant with native speakers. Offer your étudiant extra screen time to watch French YouTube videos. Let her stay up an extra half hour to play multiplayer videogames with German speakers. Adding little treats that you know your kids will love goes a long way in creating motivation.
Immerse Your Kids in a Second Langage
Who says you need to travel for language immersion? If you live near a major city, there is a very good chance you’ve got native speakers right outside of your door. Find restaurants, stores, and other places where you can interact.
Of course, no matter where you live, it’s easy to create immersion at home. From old school games like Pictionary to apps that let you chat with native speakers around the world, there are countless options. Let your kids pick any movie they want in the target language and have a family movie night. The more you do to make the language part of your family’s everyday life, the more likely your kids are to stick with it.
Language Learning Trip
After you create a language immersion environment at home, start thinking further into the future. When you are looking at how to make learning a language fun for teenagers, there’s nothing better than a vacation! Bringing your kids to a place the language is spoken is a perfect goal.
After you have created a series of smaller milestones with rewards, these types of bigger steps are key to keeping the motivation alive. Plan a family trip abroad to a native-speaking country to bring the language to life. If your kids are learning a language from a more far-flung country, you could also consider options closer to home. If your teen is taking Mandarin lessons, why not take a trip to Chicago or San Francisco and stay in Chinatown? Get creative to find a way to make it work. Practice Arabic in Detroit. Immerse yourself in French in Quebec. Meet the German speakers of Pennsylvania.
If you are wondering how to make learning a language fun for teenagers and feel like your child is mature enough, consider a solo adventure. Options like Global Leadership Adventures and Travel for Teens are life-changing opportunities. Not only will be they be a blast for your kids, but they also are an invaluable addition to future college applications and resumes.
Find the Right Teacher
Finding the right language teacher will change everything. At the same time, having the wrong language teacher is equally powerful. Rather than just relying on the school, having a tutor is priceless. Sites like Verbling or italki will transform the language learning experience for kids.
When you’re considering options for how to make learning a language fun for teenagers, it’s crucial to understand the value of working one-to-one with a native-speaking teacher. Even in a small classroom with a great teacher, it’s easy for shy or unmotivated students to get through a class, only speaking a handful of words. Meanwhile, with a private tutor, speaking is non-negotiable. Best of all, every session is catered to the student’s unique interests and needs. Find a young teacher who can engage your teen by chatting about their interests. You’ll find teachers on either site who start at $5 per hour, and one lesson a week is enough to progress.
Inspired to see the world with your family? Check out these teen-friendly travel destinations.