Language Challenge 180: Week 4

by Corey

This page is for Language Challenge 180 participants only. Sign up now to join this event!

If you missed the activities these last few weeks, go to the Weekly Activity Page and click on the activities you missed.

Did you remember to check in on Friday? If not, go to the check in page and then make sure to go check out last Friday’s giveaway!

For those of you who have been on board since the beginning, don’t forget to keep checking your language pages! Let others know about the resources you are finding and/or ones that you are still looking for. Some of the language pages are hopping!

Only Have 10 Minutes?

Many of us want to do this challenge with our children but aren’t sure how to fit in the time we need to make it happen. Rather than throwing in the towel, how about fitting in 10 minutes here and there throughout the day? That is doable, right?

In fact, focusing on our language learning throughout the day may have even better results than doing one big power session. When we do it this way, our brains have a chance to incorporate in the new bits of information over and over again – what a great framework for language learning.

This week Franck and Cristina from share some fantastic tips with us in their post Helping Children Learn a New Language: 10 Minutes at a Time on how to share language(s) with our children in 10-minutes increments. There are so many opportunities that are available which we most likely have overlooked. Read the post and see if you can add some language learning throughout your and your children’s day!

Weekly Tips

Anyone, of any age, can learn a language well!  When it comes to learning a language, there is no overarching “language learning window” that closes at a certain age and after which language learning is no longer possible. The “language window” that experts talk about is about speech perception = accents. Adults and children can learn languages equally well and many studies show that adults can actually learn languages more quickly than children.

The main reasons we should learn languages as children is because: (1) Children can often pick up a native accent while adults, on the other hand, have a very hard time doing this. (2) Children tend to learn languages by simply using them while adults, on the other than, tend to focus more on language analysis (which has both advantages and disadvantages) and tend to feel more self-conscious about using their languages.

What it comes down to is this: regardless of our age, we can learn languages very well! We just need to get started and to stick with it.

The Benefits of Bilingualism

There have been many articles about the benefits of bilingualism these past few weeks. Even though I think we need to be cautious of too much praise (bilingualism is not going to make us or our children into some kind of super human beings) it is reassuring to read about the benefits.

Here is a list of some of the top stories about bilingualism recently:

Hearing Bilingual: How Babies Sort Out Language: “Once, experts feared that young children exposed to more than one language would suffer ‘language confusion,’ which might delay their speech development. Today, parents often are urged to capitalize on that early knack for acquiring language.”

Why Bilinguals Are Smarter: “Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.”

Rendezvous Always Knew ‘Bilinguals Are Smarter’: “Of course, we already knew this, those of us who are bilingual: We are smarter than other people. Still, it was nice to have an article in The New York Times Sunday Review confirm it.”

Raising Multilingual Children (or Not): “Marcus Mabry, editor at large at The International Herald Tribune, is raising his twins to be trilingual, an act of parental aggression that I’m having a hard time not taking personally. It’s not even that either he, or his partner, speaks another language as a native. It’s just that he’s trying to do what’s best for them, and so he speaks to them only in French, while their nanny speaks to them in Mandarin, and his partner speaks English.”

If Bilingual Is Good, Is Trilingual Better?: “But if being bilingual is good, what about being trilingual, as so many people in India are? Or even quadrilingual?”

Your brain on a second language: Bilingualism and brain power: “Key to the most recent understanding of how [bilingualism] works is a reversal in attitudes toward a second language being an ‘interference.’ Once thought to have hindered academic and intellectual development, this factor turns out not to be such a bad thing after all.”

This Week’s Activities

The same activities from the first week are still on the table. Look back at those if you can’t remember what they are. Of those, these are the ones that you should try to do every day this week:

  • Activity #1: Sentences:
    Adults and/or parents:
    Decide on 10-20 new sentences that you can use every day and add them to your list from last week. If you need more information on how to come up with these sentences, look at last week’s language activities.
  • Activity #2: Reading: Keep reading every day this week!
    At least one chapter a day in a book or at least 20 minutes in your language learning program. Parents: At least one book/chapter a day out loud to your children. Make the experience as enjoyable as possible!

Now we will add a few more for this week:

  • Activity #3: Recipe:
    This week you are going to search out a recipe that is written completely in the language that you are trying to learn. If you are just starting out in the language, then find an easy recipe (less ingredients and only a few steps) like how to cook noodles. If you are more advanced in your language learning, then choose something that will challenge you a bit and will be fun to eat.
    Adults and children:
    Adults and children alike can have a great time with this activity, especially since you can eat your creation when you are done! Focus on words for the main ingredients (salt, water, milk, eggs, flour, etc.) and the verbs used (stir, cook, boil, bake, blend, etc.) and try and repeat them a lot while cooking. Use full sentences as much as possible: “I am stirring the batter,” “We are baking the cake.”
  • Activity #4: Colors
    This is a time of transition for many parts of the world: some are watching springtime flowers start to bloom while others are watching the leaves turn a golden brown. It is a perfect time of year to work on color vocabulary!
    Adults and children: Learn at least two colors a day this week. Start with the most common ones that you see around you (black, white, blue, green, etc.) and then add less common ones (violet, turquoise, magenta) if you want. Quiz one another on the colors and answer in full sentences: “The sky is blue” “The leaves are green.” A fun way to incorporate colors into your day is to play the “I spy” game by using colors to identify what you see: “I spy something red.”
  • Activity #5: Tell Someone
    An important way to keep our language learning going is to check in with a friend during the week to let them know what you have been doing. Ask a friend or family member to ask you once or twice a week what you have done in your or your children’s language learning. Tell them the details of what you have done as well as what is, and is not, working. When we know that someone will ask us about our language learning, the more apt we are to take it more seriously. Another option is to connect with someone via the Language Pages or the Multilingual Living Forum and check in with one another via email or skype.

Remember to sit down right now and plan things out for this week! What books are you going to read to yourself and/or out loud to your children? What videos are you going to watch with your children?

Don’t overload yourself. You shouldn’t feel that you have to do everything on the list! Plan things out ahead of time and you can always add more later if you have time!

You are always welcome to leave comments below – tell us what you like and don’t like with Language Challenge 180 so far and we’ll see if we can change things to work better for you.

Stay tuned for the Friday check-in question and new giveaway!

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